I’m going to Vancouver. It’s less than 2 hours by plane, direct flight. A pretty unremarkable trip. But it’s been 21 years coming.


In 1986, Vancouver hosted the World Exposition (known as Expo 86). The promotion for the event led us to believe the ENTIRE WORLD was coming to Vancouver. One morning in June, Mr. Patzer came into our Grade 6 classroom. It had to be a big deal, because Mr. Patzer was the principal, and he didn’t visit for nothing. If he was there, someone was dead, or in serious shit. He told us that the school district was putting together a student tour to Expo 86. 3 days on a bus. To BC. With other teenagers. And because they didn’t have enough kids, they were extending the opportunity to include the Grade 6ers. He started rattling off details. Dates, itinerary, what to bring. We all scribbled furiously on our hands. (This being the only way to ensure the note made it home.) Then he got to the end, and casually mentioned the cost. $300. I stopped for a second, and pretended to keep writing. But my pen didn’t touch my skin again. I knew, instantly and without conscious thought, that my family’s grocery bill was exactly $100 a week. I could either go off gallivanting, as my grandma would have called it, having fun with my friends, timidly flirting with boys, seeing THE WORLD, or my family could eat for 3 weeks. I knew I wouldn’t be telling my parents. They were horrible in these situations. They would initially reject any idea brought to them. Then they would wring their hands, trying to find a way to make it work. I would get my hopes up. Reality would set in, and they’d have to finally admit there was no way. And even if I did get disappointed, cry, carry on, in the end, I’d have to live with it. So I wouldn’t be telling them.


We had these calendars at home that came pre-marked with the important days (Xmas, Easter, etc). This year, they’d added the start and end dates of Expo 86. I went home, and quietly crossed those days out, the ballpoint pen ripping through the paper, I pressed so hard. That fall, when school was in again, there were so many stories. Stories from the bus trip, strangely few from Expo itself. I made the appropriate interested-sounding comments (“No way! He did WHAT? That’s so cool!). And by then I actually was a little interested, the bitterness having dissipated a little over the summer.


I am excited to be going now. I only wish I could go back, and take that 11 year old girl with me.


5 responses to “Vancouver

  1. You are taking her with you. Take care of her. Hold her hand when you cross the street.

    See you soon. both of you.

  2. I remember that trip, it wasn’t as exciting as one would think a trip of that magnitude should have been. I remember oddly though I was sad you were not going to be on the bus. I remember though I was fearless in my youthful curiousity. I remember having to sleep in a hostel (ICK!) Thinking, can this get any worse? Then my room mates for the hostel were introduced. Yes, yours truly once shared sleeping accomodations with none other than… Mr. George Patzer. Tell me that doesn’t make one giddy with excitement. I do believe the accomodations were in part due to my insatiable curiousity and my willingness to go wherever I wanted. I mean heck I payed for the trip why cant I do what I want to do? Ofcourse never being as infirm as my brother when we did go to the beach, I was not one to pick up the small crabs they found. In my mind all I could think was…this should be good for some screaming! Then I remember being glad I did not do it as my brother quickly found out pinchers are not soft flesh friendly. I remember thinking, if that had been me I would have cried, and the horror of crying…in grade 6…almost 7 in front of all the senior people was terrifying.
    In the end I am glad for the adventure, happy for the my mistrust of anything that is wild and still at the same time sad, I am sorry you didn’t make the trip!

  3. It’s so funny Brian, but I never ever stopped to think that anyone who went on the trip would ever read this. Rooming with Mr. Patzer? God damn, how much therapy did that take to get over?

    And really, I think we should all just be thankful we weren’t Gary (I heard some things…)

  4. I came across your blog on stumbleupon today, and I am so glad I did. I am now going through the old entries and this one almost brought me to tears. Makes me feel the need to go to Boston and Quebec City. They are my Vancouver. Thank you for all of your delightful entries! Cheers to you!

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