I was a bus kid. I lived outside of a small town in a community my mother was teased about when she left her one room school house to attend school in town. We were the country and trailer park kids shipped to a small elementary school. Most of our parents had to work extra hard to keep one foot over the poverty line. By the time we hit third grade we had already developed some kind of fortitude for what life itself was really about. We were a tough and scrappy bunch. Those of us who were quiet and wanted to be ignored got to be the “good” kids and those of us who needed to be loud and say something got to be the “bad” kids, but long bus rides on cold winter mornings made us all dreamers.
My dreams were cultivated in those stop and start journeys. I can pinpoint the exact events in my childhood where the seeds of my dreams were sown in the darkest, most fertile place of my imagination. I was ten when the first seed was planted. I read Roald Dahl’s Matilda. I don’t remember how it got in my hands, but I was enraptured. It is the story of a little girl who had no qualms about standing up for herself in a world of grown-ups, a little girl who was so smart her brain produced excess energy that allowed her to move physical objects. I was sold and I wanted that. I wanted to be that smart and damn it did I try. It changed me, I believed that I could do anything if only I became smart enough.
The next year another seed was planted. I saw my first Steven Spielberg film, Hook. Ridiculous, I know, but the script twisted and turned the story of Peter Pan into something new and exciting and it was magic. I believed Neverland was real and I wanted to go and be fierce. It was then I decided that I needed to write so I too could create magic, a place to escape.
By the time I reached high school my little saplings of dreams had deep roots, fed by my own imagination and desire and a constant message that I could be and do anything I wanted. So when my grade ten phys-ed teacher, teaching some form of social education in our theory class informed me that my socio-economic status would be the greatest factor dictating my future, I was stunned. It was the first time I took any interest in my physical education and I had myself a nice long rant on a big ‘ol soap box in the middle of class. While I may have doubted my talent and skills, I never once doubted that my dreams could be accomplished or that I would be limited by my, and previously unaware of, socio-economic status.
As collateral, security, and basically a polite “fuck you” to that class and its teacher, I earned two degrees after high school. I am proud of these achievements, the skills I have learned and the actualization of a dream (although I still can’t move objects with my brain power). I still believe I am capable of creating magic too. Perhaps not with the same sense of wonder and possibility I once did, but there is a belief nonetheless. I think in a parallel universe there is an eleven year old version of myself sitting by a tree in the field of West Riverview Elementary School waiting for me, damn well daring me to find her and tell her that everything she dreamed of had come true. Should anyone come across her, let her know I am writing her a fairy tale about a black eyed, black haired girl who saves a dying forest.