Tawnya was putting some words down on paper today about a recent experience the family had, and probably didn’t know I was feeling the same thing. Here’s my feeble attempt. I’m sure many of you have experienced similar, since we all get attached to place, and to the constant landscape of our everyday surroundings.
She stood at the ready from the day we brought her home from Wabash, that shiny green Dodge Caravan with the ice cold air and power locks and windows. It was only the second vehicle we’d ever bought new, but with the addition of Steven to the family, we needed something that could cart us all around. From that day she was a constant part of our lives. Until a couple of weeks ago, that is. After fourteen years and over 200,000 miles, I turned my back on her and without so much as a Judas kiss, took a $200 check from the junkyard owners who said she’d be crushed within a week.
We never really named her, but she took us to the grocery store, to the hospital, to Universal Studios for a road trip the kids planned and enjoyed while we were home schooling them. Aaron and Sierra, they still laugh about the Backstreet Boys cassette tape they played the entire trip. She almost bit the dust when water from a flooded street got into the intake and shut the engine down. Insurance revived her. Almost lost her when she catapulted a deer off of her hood one frosty autumn morning while taking Tawnya to work at Burger King. Insurance came to the rescue again and within a week she was back in the driveway. She took us to Texas and back in 2004, to Washington D.C. and back in 2010, and if it weren’t for rust so bad you couldn’t slide the doors open, I swear to God I would have plunked down another wad of money to keep her around for another couple of years. But it was time. As I looked back through digital photo albums looking for a picture of her to post here (who takes pictures of their vehicles?), I realize just how much time has passed.
I’ll get some sleep and this melancholy feeling will pass, and I’ll wonder later why I got so sentimental. But really, I already know why. Our DNA was smeared on her windows like the spit a mother uses to clean her children’s faces. It was worn into the carpets where Steven and Megan’s crayons fell and got trapped in the seat tracks. Smoothed like a caress where our fingers wore spots into the steering wheel. Every scrape we painted, weather strip we lovingly tugged back into place, picture we smirkingly took of gape-mouthed sleepyheads in the back seat on long trips, she was just full of us. Just a van, just an inanimate piece of Detroit workmanship.
Fourteen plus years, unless it was just me, we usually chose her to make the run and she was always there. There’s another van in my driveway now, but there will always be a place in the driveway of my heart for her dear frame. If I was even a bit emo, maybe I would have had the family gather around her to say goodbye before I took her to the crushing yard.
Maybe being emo like that wouldn’t have been a bad thing.