I must admit much of this story is still fuzzy to me. I was only five years old when it happened, but it remains a favorite story to recall for my family.
When I was younger my parents would take their four young children on month-long trips for summer vacation, in their yellow VW van, the popular vehicle for large families in the 70’s. We all had designated seats that were given by age. Since there was no AC at that time, the older siblings got the seats up front with the larger windows, while I the youngest child got the seat next to all the camping gear, the family dog and a window that only opened one inch.
Whenever we stopped for a bathroom break, each of us let our mom know we were getting out, what we were going to do, and then let her know of our return. Before dad was allowed to start up the car she would look back and call us each by name to make sure we had made it back in our seats.
Well, we were entering the third week of our vacation, and our family was reaching a breaking point after many long weeks in a small van, driving thousands of miles across the country and living off camping food. We were all at each others’ throats.
My parents had taken us to a small island off the coast of Maine for the day so we could swim on the beach and burn off some energy. To get to the island we had to take our car on a ferry. After a long fun- filled and tiring day on the beach my parents hurried us along so we could make an earlier boat and still have time to find a camping spot on the mainland. On the drive back to the loading dock my dad realized our van was almost out of gas, so he pulled in quickly to a gas station. All of sudden my stomach got the better of me and I just had to go to the bathroom. I crawled out of the car as fast as I could, not wanting to have an accident and found a dirty bathroom.
I am not sure how long I was in there but when I came out I realized my family was gone. I stood there for what seemed like an eternity not knowing what to do. The two very young gas station attendants found me standing by the gas pump my family was just at. They took me inside. There they played games with me, got me soda and candy, even told me funny jokes that made me laugh so hard grape soda came out of my nose.
Right in the middle of a great game of hide and seek, I saw the yellow van pull up, tires screeching. My mom ran out even before the car stopped moving, screaming my name. I calmly walked out of the store with a look of confusion; she picked me up in her arms and kissed my sticky face and looked me over a few times just to make sure I was still in one piece.
She walked over and thanked the two young boys for taking such good care of me. I then got into my small seat next to the dog, my mom called out all of our names and we were on our way to our next adventure.