Going to the Lake
In my last year of Junior High, I found out that I had the chance to go up to Sakinaw Lake with my aunt and uncle. I hadn’t been there for three or four years, and so I was excited about the opportunity. My sister, who was a couple of years older than me, said that she would drive me to my uncle’s, about a 40 minute drive away, in an area around Vancouver. My sister had got her license the year before. I collected what I would need for the lake. My sister drove me to my uncle’s in my mom’s car and dropped me off.
I had fond memories of my uncle’s. It was a big house closer to the city, where we would alternate Christmases when we were growing up. There we would have Christmas dinner upstairs, and then the cousins would sit downstairs afterwards. I used to love downstairs because they had a billiards room, and a room with a bar where there were bottles of things I was too young to drink, and a tv and lots of couches and boxes of games on the shelves. Beyond the room with the pool table was a small guest room, which I had never stayed in before, but I would be staying in this time. It was a small room with a bed and a yellow bedspread. I remember one particular Christmas we were sitting downstairs watching Christmas tv as usual, drinking pop and eating my aunt’s homemade liquor chocolates, with my cousins watching an American Christmas Carol, and we were giggling at Henry Winkler, because he was being funny.
But this was the summertime when my sister dropped me off at my uncle’s. Sakinaw Lake was a place where I had spent the summers of my childhood, but my parents didn’t have a cabin anymore, so we didn’t go now. My uncle still had a cabin there though, right next to where ours used to be. I had gone downstairs to the spare room I had never been in before, it was later in the evening, and we would be getting up really early in the morning to leave to catch the ferry at Horseshoe Bay. I had grabbed what I needed in a hurry at home, so it still needed organizing and packing properly. I had just started to lay things out and get organized what I would need to pack in the morning when I heard my aunt call me from upstairs.
My sister was back, the reason being that on the way home from my uncle’s she had been in a car accident a couple of streets away, and had totalled my mother’s car. My aunt plunked her down on the kitchen table so we could check out her injuries which were a few scrapes and bruises, and what turned out to be a sore knee. I felt bad. I figure if the car was totalled, the accident must have been significant, but my sister seemed to be holding it together. I said, after my sister was upright, that if I knew my sister would have been in a car accident, and my mom’s car would have been totalled, all because of me getting to go to the lake, I would have said she shouldn’t drive me.
I just wanted to go to the lake so badly. To have it like old times, swimming, and roasting marshmallows and reading comics on the dock. I guess I wanted a dose of pure childhood on my last summer before going to the big high school. But I hadn’t finished packing from before, and so I was in the small yellow guest room downstairs. I turned on the radio to listen to some music before bed, and they were playing Freedom by Wham!, which was one of my favourite songs at the time. Things could have been so much worse, and yet they weren’t. What if my sister had been taken then and our lives changed forever. But it ended up being a scrape-up on Richmond Street, a totalled car and me still leaving my toothbrush and toothpaste on the side of the sink, until we were ready to go tomorrow, through the Vancouver rush-hour traffic, past the PNE and over the Second Narrows Bridge, til we were waiting in line at Horseshoe Bay, getting ready to board the ferry.
This is a work of creative nonfiction; it contains no composite characters and no names have been changed. I have tried to recreate events, locales and conversations from my memories of them, but I have taken some storytelling liberties, due to my interpretation of events, fading memory, lack of time machine, and need to cherry-pick some memories over others in order to express my thoughts within the story, but these have been slight.