I am five years old. I am sitting in our apartment in Holland. My mother is showing me a heavy book with dark blue covers. I am looking at a picture of a group of men with very serious faces. My mother tells me they are called “Indians”. Some of them are wearing bowler hats! I think, this is what it must be like in Canada.
My father is in Canada. He has gone to find us a place to live. He has sent us a photograph. He is standing against a wire fence, with a long gun propped up beside him. His coat has black and red squares, and he is standing in snow.
We are staying with my grandparents in London. My grandfather is trying to teach me to eat “properly”. He wants me to hold my knife in my right hand. This is very difficult. My grandfather starts tickling me, and I hide under the table to get away.
My mother and I and my little brother are still in England, but now we are in the country with her sister and my cousins. We have gone for a long walk. I can smell wood smoke in the air. There are blackberries along the path, and we are eating them.
My mother takes us walking all over a large, large ship. We go down to a deck that is very close to the water. This is where they keep people’s pets, in cages. The deck is wet with spray. Later we look into a playroom that has wonderful toys, and places to climb. I can’t go in and play. My mother tells me this is the “first class” playroom. We have to play in the “tourist class” playroom, but this one is better. We go to the very back of the ship, and I look far down and see the water churning. The water is green.
It is nighttime, and dark. We are on a train and we are going to Toronto. I am very tired. When we get to Toronto there are very bright lights and yellow tiles. My father is there. He brings us to our new apartment, and he has presents for us. I have a dollhouse, my little brother gets a tricycle.
Our apartment is on a very busy road. Across the street is a factory where they make Coca Cola and Orange Crush. All our furniture is new. We have wooden bunk beds with two dressers to match, a chrome kitchen table with four chairs, and something called a davenport, where my parents sleep at night. My father bought the furniture on the “never never plan”. That means he pays for it every month, until it is all paid for. My brother and I like to play in the street. We write down the licence plates of all the cars.
My father has lost his job. They didn’t need so many people. My mother is very worried. She thinks we will have to live on Jarvis Street. I think Jarvis Street must be a very bad street.
My father has a new job, so now we are living in a very small town. We have a car, a blue Meteor, and it took us two days to drive here, with my mother and brother and also our new baby brother. My father told me we would see the Blue Mountains, but I watched and watched, and never saw any blue mountains. My mother is very lonely here. No one really wants to make friends with us. Our school is very old, and it has a funny smell. The stairs are made of wood, and they are all worn down in the middle. When they have religion class we have to sit on the stairs, because we are Catholics.
We have moved again. This town is bigger, but there are not many places to live. This year we have already stayed in two places, and now we are in the Brockwell Apartments. My brother and I have the bunk beds, and next to us there is a blue crib for the baby. My mum and dad sleep in the livingroom. I like the apartment, but our neighbours downstairs are grouchy; every time we walk across the floor they bang on their ceiling with a broom. I am not happy at school. At recess I sit on the washroom steps, because no one wants to play with me. The other children make fun of the way we talk and the way we dress. They call us DPs. My mother says that means displaced persons, and she says they are wrong. I wish my grandparents and cousins were not so far away. It is lonely here in Canada.