Chapter Two

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The sound of my dad mowing the lawn at 7:00 a.m. was enough to wake me up. The fact he was up so early doing yard work meant there was a good chance he would come inside and put me and my brother to work as well. I peered out my window to see how much longer he would be. He was about halfway done, so by my estimation that gave me about thirty minutes before he came inside and started barking orders at me. Somewhere along the way in his life, he had not reached his goals. So ever since I could remember, he had been pushing me to make something of myself. That was fine, except that nothing I ever did was good enough for him. Since the bar was set so high, after a while, I had just stopped trying. A saying that summed up my life perfectly was, 'Don't reach for what you can't grab'.  

As hard as I tried to think about it, it wasn't obvious which direction my life would go. It wasn't as if I was standing at a fork in the road with several paths laid out in front of me; I was standing at the edge of a jungle. I knew I had to enter it, eventually, and there was no better time than the present.  

Still in bed, I leaned over and grabbed my phone. I spoke with a friend of mine who had recently moved out of his parents' place. He had forged ahead into the so-called jungle and was encouraging me to join him. During our short conversation, I made the decision to follow in his footsteps and walk the path he had already carved out. It was a hasty decision, but not a completely irrational one. It had been about a week since graduation and I still had nothing going on. My dad kept bugging me to get a job and move out, so that was what I decided to do.  

I got out of bed and went into my closet. I grabbed a small backpack and began filling it with everything I thought I needed to survive in the real world. I packed a week's supply of socks and underwear, my favourite t-shirts, a pair of pants, a small knife, some Band-Aids, a toothbrush, and some food.  

After my bag was packed, I secured the zippers with a small lock. I stood up, tossed my bag over my shoulder, and took one last look around my room. I wondered if I would ever see it again.  

I made my way downstairs and saw my dad eating breakfast. I poured some cereal into a bowl and sat down at the kitchen table across from him.  

"Going somewhere?" he asked, taking notice of my backpack. 

"Uh, yeah, I'm going to stay with Will for a little while," I responded. That was somewhat true; I just didn't know how long 'a little while' was going to be. 

"Do you need any money?"  

"No," I responded coldly. I rejected the money to prove a point. I wanted to show him I did not need his help. Or maybe I was just too proud to admit that I did, especially since he had such little faith in me. I had less than a hundred dollars to my name, the last bit of money that I had left from selling bootleg mix tapes around school, but I was determined to make it work.  

My brother, Brian, was really smart; he was already halfway through a university degree and was an all around good son. I, on the other hand, had poor grades and no direction. With all the trouble I had at school and home, I felt like my dad had pretty much given up on me. However, when it was time for me to leave, I was surprised at how little he fought with me to stay. I guess he didn't disagree with my decision. Or maybe he thought Will still lived down the street. Either way, I was happy for the freedom. 

My dad finished his breakfast and started to clean his dishes. Not another word was spoken between us. I didn't even bother to say 'goodbye'. 

Before I left, I knocked on my brother's door. Seeing as it was early in the morning and I had a large backpack slung over my shoulder, he made the logical deduction as well. "Where you going?" he asked. 

"I'm moving to Banff." 

"Banff? Why Banff?" 

"I just need to get out of K-town." 

"Alright, man. Call me if you need anything." 

"I will, thanks." 

After saying goodbye, I left the house and set out on foot like a man on a quest. It was a beautiful day, perfect for traveling. It was early in the morning, so the sun wasn't that hot yet, but I still managed to work up a sweat. After walking for over an hour and a half, I finally reached the bus station. 

I walked inside and went straight to the bathroom. I cranked the knob on the faucet and waited for the water to get cold. I cupped my hand under the running water and then brought it up to my mouth to slurp up the cold liquid. I could feel it go all the way down. I splashed some water on my face then turned off the faucet.  

"You ready to do this?" I mumbled to myself, staring back at my reflection in the mirror. I stood there a moment then wiped my face and left. 

I exited the bathroom and stood in line. When it was my turn, I counted out over fifty dollars to purchase a one-way ticket, and then waited for the boarding announcement. I couldn't believe I was actually leaving this place. Next stop - Banff, Alberta.

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