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My dad’s yellow courier van has been a part of my life ever since I was born. Every day before light floods the sky, I would hear its engine rumble as my dad headed to work. After school, I would sit in the passenger seat while he finished his courier run. The smell of cheap coffee scented the van and its radio would buzz with the day’s news. I used to peer out of its wide side window as the sky blued and the buildings zoomed by, taking in all the sounds from outside. The trip always evoked a sense of yearning, a desire to see more of the world I could only glance through my window. It therefore drew on a paradoxical significance in my mind. It represented an opening to the outside world and the promise of new experiences but also a glass barrier between them and myself, even more unbridgeable since the handle that opened the window was usually jammed.
Others were always ecstatic at the sight of the bulky, yellow van. Everyone, eager to either give or receive the day’s mail, would meet my dad with a smile. Only I would neglect to smile as the van rolled up towards the school gate. My thirteen-year-old self wished for a less conspicuous car. Like most people on the cusp of adolescence, all I wanted to do was blend in. Consequently, I would draw the cover on the window seeking refuge, but the trade-off was that behind this screen I could neither be part of the world nor receive the gifts that it had to offer. Since then, I’ve come to realize that conforming can be a discredit to a life fully lived.
I used to think of the courier van as an oppressive, yellow cage and an eternal source of adolescent embarrassment; but eventually I realized that it was and still is an integral part of my journey and who I am. In my early years, it ushered in a thirst to see more of the world. Years later, it delivered lessons in humility and gratitude. I grew and became a more diverse passenger and so did the route of the van. Its route, not tethered to the strict delivery and recovery of parcels, has evolved through the years to transport its most demanding parcel to youth council meetings, netball games and debating competitions. Without my dad’s unflinching support and hard work, I would never have reached all those destinations that would yield invaluable experiences and vital opportunities for growth.
It never mattered whether the rain was drumming on the metal roof or whether the sun blazed relentlessly on the yellow van. We would traverse the main road for a few minutes at a time before having to stop and deliver a few parcels. And then this process, consistent as clockwork, would repeat. My dad, carrying us on his van like a medieval knight on his horse, would ensure that, rain or shine, peril or calm, he completed his day’s route, I never missed an opportunity and that we would always reach our destination together.
My dad bought a new van at the end of my first year of high school in 2011. The shade of yellow is as bright as ever, and the new van even outsizes the last. Now the passenger window works fine as well. The van has changed and so have I, but the most important part, the driver, remains the same. He is the real engine that makes all this possible. I will always be grateful to that enormous yellow van that has shaped my outlook on life and will remain a significant part of my journey, but now I am eager to carve out my own path, never forgetting that rain or shine, opportunities and new experiences can always be reached.
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