It’s been a while since I’ve had Pop-Tarts and Flinstone vitamins for breakfast. Eating breakfast with my sister and my dad was routine every morning. I would be excited to go to school, especially if it was Earth Day when the whole day was designated to constructing animal masks and decorating pinecones.
Nothing topped Pioneer Day though, when we dressed up as pioneers, churned butter and made our own candles. One morning when I was in grade three, I woke up and discovered little red dots scattered on my back, chest and belly. I had contracted my sister’s chicken pox, just as we suspected I would. It was Pioneer Day that day, and my costume, equipped with a bonnet and ribbons for my hair, hung on my door handle all ready for me to wear. I simply couldn’t bear the thought of missing candle wax dipping and basket weaving. As the pox had not yet reached my face, I was able to successfully pretend that everything was normal and I got dropped off at school as usual, so excited to be a little pioneer girl. The day was a success, and the pox conveniently spread to my face that evening at dinner. I was very proud of myself for pulling off this stunt of mine, although, I ended up spreading the chicken pox to half the class. There were a lot of empty desks for the next couple of weeks. One kid was out of class for a full three weeks. I felt bad, but he had to get them some time, right?
My dad would drive my sister and me to school in his extremely old and dinky blue car. In the winter we were lucky if the car would even start. One morning my sister and I had to walk ourselves to school because the car broke down and couldn’t make it out of the garage. Together, we had to trudge, trudge, trudge to school in a snow storm, our boots lugging and our snowsuits swish-swishing in unison.
I had no fear, whether it was on the monkey bars, balance beam, or toboggan, and it resulted in such an alarming amount of broken bones that a social worker sent my dad into the hall as my arm was being wrapped into a cast in order to question me about my home life. I really do cherish those days of childhood adventure.
I still have a little trouble looking at grade five photos of me. Hard to recall that I actually looked like that at some point . . . but I did. I had a bit of a unibrow. I had big buck teeth and my hair hung awkwardly in my face. Although they were some awkward times in between childhood and womanhood . . . I was happy. My family was the best. Spending New Years Eve with my grandma and blowing bubbles on her deck are at the top of the best of times, right with the cottage. I had 6 summers of cottage fun, filled with bike rides, scavenger hunts, pancake breakfasts, Archie Comics, and swims in the lake. Most of all I had a very wild imagination that created exaggerated stories about our neighbours, received with many eye-rolls form my parents. In my later childhood years my parents took my sister and me on an East Coast trip. We rented a Winnebago and drove all the way through Quebec to New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. I was young but recall having such an appreciation for where I was and what I was experiencing. I was fascinated to be in PEI as an Anne of Green Gables lover. Walking along red sand beaches, trying lobster for the first time, and learning how the tide is controlled by the moon’s gravitational pull are moments that made me appreciate new scenery, culture and food. Perhaps this is where my travel bug all began.
The days of being a goofy kid are gone now (well, only sometimes actually) and I’m in the middle of the next chapter of my life. I have a zest for adventure and throw in humour whenever and wherever I can while I’m at it. I have too many travel goals to count and I am always planning adventure after adventure, writing lists upon lists of travel ideas. Often I get really impatient waiting in between travels and I can hardly contain my imagination running wild with ideas and desires. I am trying my best to be a little more patient and enjoy the experiences I’m enduring when I’m not abroad. Nonetheless, whenever there’s a pause or dull moment in my day, my thoughts will immediately float off to travel and hang above me teasingly.
Those days as a kid have shaped who I am today and everything that I have seen, accomplished, and been a part of as an almost quarter-of-the-century old young woman. I’m proud of the fact that I have exciting stories and a strong independence to share and inspire friends, family, and even strangers. The Alli then and the Alli now are really not that different at all. I am still goofy, sneaky, and stubborn, with a big heart that wants very much to share, learn and inspire. I had the best childhood and I wouldn’t change a thing . . . except for maybe the unibrow.