As a young child, I remember getting up early one morning with my dad. I must have been around four or five years old, but it’s hard to say exactly. What I do know is that the house was uncharacteristically quiet; the day greeted us with a pleasant expectancy, eagerly waiting to be filled with all of our comings and goings. The magic of childhood hung heavily in the air, the many unknowns outside of my little world conspiring to create a reality where anything truly could be possible. The rarity of an adventure awaiting just my dad & I, with no mom and no little brothers, held delicious potential; not understanding how exactly the hours to follow would unfurl, the unexplored, the unidentified, and the undiscovered stretched out before us, full of possibility.
Where was my mom? Where were my brothers? Sleeping maybe? (although that seems unlikely)
My dad has always been one to spark excitement in us kids by enthusiastically espousing the virtues of things he likes and enjoys: Bill Ranford, zingy old cheddar cheese, boating, Toyotas, catching walleye on a Red Devil, and, more recently, bike trips and Johnny Gaudreau (in fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that he gets significantly more joy out of the discussion and planning and ridiculously early packing of suitcases, than he does out of the actual experience). So, on that early morning full of magic, I was so looking forward to making peanut butter and jam sandwiches (none of this “peanut butter and jelly” nonsense, we say “peanut butter and jam”), since Dad had explained, several times over the preceding days, how fun it would be to pack them for our picnic lunch.
Peanut butter was a crucial staple in our house growing up, and still is. My Mom once picked up a case when it was on sale at Costco, and had a lady in line ask if she ran a restaurant
(“Who could ever eat that much peanut butter!?”)
and I’m sure Cameron survived on peanut butter and buns for days on end in elementary school. Consequently, it must also have been around the time I was four or five years old that I drove by GPRC with my dad. The college’s gargantuan size, curling and twisting, with brick walls soaring high into the air, intimidated me, but Dad began his crusade to prepare me for college right then and there, espousing the benefits of a post secondary education in advance, just like with the peanut butter and jam sandwiches:
“One day, if you work hard, you will be able to go to college there!”
Tucking me in at night, he’d reiterate this sentiment, and I’d cry at the far-away and terrifying prospect of leaving home. Although laughable to my adult self, Grande Prairie seemed distant, and some-what foreign to preschool-me.
Dad would attempt to soothe my fears by promising that I could come home, and he’d still make me peanut butter and jam sandwiches to take for lunch, to which I’d just cry more. Trying again, Dad would promise that I could come home, and mom would still make me peanut butter and jam sandwiches to take in my lunch.
Not understanding how exactly the years to follow would unfurl, the unexplored, the unidentified, and the undiscovered stretched out before us, full of possibility.