On the year I turned eighteen I explained to my mother that now I was legally an adult I wouldn't bother to go with them to the country for our annual holiday. I'd stay home for a change. I could look after myself so there was no need for her to worry.
My mother looked at me thoughtfully and told me to make sure I packed a decent jumper. I'd forgotten the previous year.
July in the sun drenched Mediterranean party island of Ibiza was hot as hell and bursting with energy. I had been soaking up the sun with my best mate Colleen for just 48 hours and we were still really only just finding our feet and know where the crowds and decent bars were.
"Here we are -- home, sweet home," announced Amber as the car pulled up out the front of a battered old caravan down the far end of the park.
"Looks great," I said, getting out of the back seat. "Homely. Looks like it hardly would leak at all in a storm."
The drive up was pleasant; small talk was made about the country and its politics, the farm and the old people as well as my son and her daughter. This trip was never supposed to happen but here I am driving 800km or 13 hours to my wilderness hunting area not with my wife but with my mother in law Jenna. I was originally planning on going ahead up North on my own as I usually do but at dinner the previous weekend the whole family decided that she should accompany me on the trip and see what it was like up there.
I suppose you could say it was my own fault. I was on holiday and I suppose I let my hair down a bit. You know how it is. School's over for the year. You're eighteen and away from home. Nothing to do but have a good time. And that's what I was doing. That's all. I wasn't doing anything wrong. Not really.
On this particular day I'd hired a moped and gone for a drive. I was just another teenager buzzing around on this little bike. It was fun.
It was the day before Thanksgiving. Denise was happy that the four-day school break was finally here. It had been a rough last few weeks trying to get her high school students to comprehend the World History material. She looked forward to dinner with the family the next day, and then lots of holiday shopping!
When my college housemate Jamie first suggested going on holiday to Tenerife together I jumped at the chance. "Really?" I said eagerly. "That'd be really cool, we can go and see that cave I was telling you about, you know, the one with the fossils..." I was amazed at the offer, and chuffed at the same time. I mean, Jamie and I weren't even that close friends...
I won a holiday. It was a holiday for two for a week on a dude ranch. We could go riding, swimming, play sport, have a barbecue, go hiking, whatever. It was all covered. All I had to do was turn up with a friend and we were set.
I asked Debbie, of course. She's my best friend and we do everything together. She said yes, and when May rolled around we were off.
For me, family holidays are always boring. So I'm sure you can understand that while sitting on the plane going to Cyprus, I was not too pleased. I hadn't been there in 8 years so was excited to see my family, but to be honest; there was nothing to do where I was staying.
Shelley glanced at her reflection as she passed the large mirror outside the elevator doors. She was so average. As the elevator reached her floor, she tried to remain focused on trying to enjoy this, her first holiday in years.
She had a tedious job in a prairie city that could be crushingly lonely. She had little contact with her family, except her sister, who lived a hundred miles away;