SOLSC: March 15, 2016 – It’s time to say goodbye…


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My beloved van has finally reached its last days.  Some years ago, I wrote about it this way:

my van
A car is something with which to get from point A to point B and transport my family in some degree of comfort.  We bought our minivan some years ago, because, with three kids and their many friends, what other option was there?  But this minivan soon became especially  mine both inside and out.

Everything from my political leanings, to my profession, to my beloved Boston Red Sox has a place to live.  I did have a few other bumper stickers, but my kids seem to have made sure that they were removed, never to be seen again.  Oh well, I think I’m running out of room, anyway. Even the license plate number has significance – when we moved to New Jersey from Maryland, my tag read (at least to me) MY 6(as in June)87 (as in 1987) Marriage – that’s our wedding month and year! it was meant to be!!   Soon after that, we traded in our Windstar for an Odyssey, but I kept the plates – how could I not?!

On the inside, it is filled with “my stuff” – my favorite CDs (Emmylou Harris, the Grateful Dead, La Boheme, The Low Anthem), tons of pens and pencils (because you never know if you’ll be stuck somewhere and can get some grading done), New Yorker magazines I’ve been meaning to read, notebooks and post its (in case I get the urge to write as I’m waiting to pick someone up, and old grocery lists that I made and then forgot to take into the grocery store. Shopping bags – somewhere in everyday is a visit to some store.
There are also traces of past experiences and wonderful memories.  The trunk still shows signs of the mulch our girl scout troop picked up when my youngest, Olivia,  was in second grade – every time I see it I remember what a great service project that was, planting beds all around their school.  The bench seat at the back has several stickers from the time our son was a Pokemon fan – they make me smile and remember fourth grade to sixth grade Ben.  The pocket behind the driver’s seat is ripped, but that reminds me of driving Elizabeth to college for her freshman year. She had stowed all the things she “forgot to pack until the last minute” – a LOT of things, as it turned out, but the torn pocket reminds me of my brilliant but often scatterbrained daughter.  And the floor shows evidence of Sophie – rawhide bones here and there and odd sticks she has picked up on walks.
Someday, I will have to bid goodbye to this van…
Well, that “someday” has arrived.  Our children, who have for years refused to be seen driving the van around town under ANY circumstances are relieved.  My students, who have enjoyed being able to instantly recognize where and how I drive when I am not in school (I teach in the town next to the one in which I live) are curious.
But, I am sad.  That van represents kids’ growing up years: lots of schlepping to school, soccer games, track meets, music recitals.  It has seen gaggles of girls and sweaty guys, all kinds of food and too many Starbucks runs to count, and furniture to house many a dorm room and New York City apartment.  It has seen our kids grow up and helped them move out.
The rest of the Smith family is looking forward to a shiny new (bumper sticker free) car. But, I am in mourning.

28 thoughts on “SOLSC: March 15, 2016 – It’s time to say goodbye…

  1. I love this slice, Tara. When you’re ferrying young children around through their busy lives, your cars/vans do bear the marks of all those rich activities. You have me thinking about the cars we’ve had and have and the many memories they hold. I still smile whenever I see a van drive by with stickers all over the inside of the back window. That was us back in the day! Thanks for sharing and for sending me down memory lane!

  2. Oh the van, long live the van. I feel your emotion in this piece. I love this emotion. Though I recognize it as sadness, I think it is filled with love and experience.

  3. I am in transition with getting rid of my Odyssey. I chose to go bumper sticker free. But, I love how it archives the places in your life. I thought I was being neat and tidy. But now it feels like I might have missed something. I’m still bonded to my van. But thanks for making me think about our places in a different way.

  4. Precious memories will be saved by your words when the van is gone. I had to laugh when you said your kids did not want to be seen in this vehicle. A new era will be ushered in with the new car and who knows what stories it will live. Happy car hunting.

  5. I’ll be watching the journey to the new vehicle. I feel this way about my SUV. I’m so content with it, I’ll be sad when we have to trade it in. Best of luck as you make this new purchase!

  6. I can relate- my parents bought a new 1976 Dodge Omni (for a family of 6- what were they thinking?) That Omni was the car my mom used to drive us all over, then when I turned 16, it was my “first” car, then passed on to my sister, then to my other sister- and finally my brother. In the end, the teenagers had to prioritize what would work without making it stall (radio vs heat? radio always won). So much fun, laughter, french fries, etc. In 1992 my dad had to finally watch it get hauled away.

  7. I love that there are still Pokemon stickers, and all the other special ephemera in the van, Tara. It’s like a moving scrapbook of the kids’ growing up. It is sad to say goodbye to such a special thing. But-new memories in a new car wait for this next phase in your life.

  8. Clearly, so many Slicers, like myself, identify with this post. The Mommy van was certainly a fixture in the past decade or two, but now you rarely see one and I always glance at it when I do. Mine is pretty much worn out, with several dents and a musty smell from a leak in the windshield frame that allows rain to seep behind the dashboard to the floor of the van under the rug. Not pleasant unless it’s fully aired out.
    This van has been to D.C. and back countless times to visit my son in Georgetown and ferry his belongings back and forth. Now it travels to Brooklyn to visit him there and occasionally haul something he needs or wants to get rid of. I have been so comfortable in it (I have lifelong lower back issues) that I have loved having it. My husband wants to replace it because it’s the only vehicle that can accommodate more than 4 people comfortably. We’ll see. Lots of miles; lots of memories. Great post, Tara!

  9. She has served you and your family well…and you have honored her with your slice! I ALWAYS get attached to my car…(to my bike as a kid, too). We spend so much time in our cars, it stands to reason that we make memories there.

  10. Your van is like a home away from home filled with artifacts and memories. i can understand your sadness in saying goodbye.

  11. This how I felt when our van died and we switched to a smaller car. I loved the van – it was my car. I so understand! Hang in there – you will have a chance to make new memories in a new car! Maybe bring a few things with you to the new car as reminders of the good times.

  12. I, too, loved my old Honda Odyssey … but I did not mourn it for long. A newer, shiny Odyssey was chosen to replace it and new memories are being stored inside! Hugs to you as you let go of that minivan and high fives for a new, shiny replacement!

  13. Your slice sounds like my laptop piece from last week… new and shiny is not always better. I am adjusting to the new but still miss the old. At least you have your tribute.

  14. I’m wondering if I will feel the same years from now when we get rid of our minivan. I kicked and screamed when my husband said we needed to get one. I even asked the salesman if I looked like a minivan mom. (he didn’t answer haha) But so many memories are made and discussions happen in that car. I think it’ll be like when we sold our double jogger. There was such an emotional attachment to it, I felt as if I’d just lost a friend. Thanks for this great post!

  15. The car, where you have so many memories, is a difficult thing to let go. I loved my Windstar and then, Town and Country. So many trips, so many car pools, so many conversations.
    Sorry you’re saying goodbye to your car, but hope you enjoy the new one!

  16. So many memories stowed into this slice. I think the Pokemon stickers made me smile the most. My son was into Magic during 6th-8th grade. I smile when I see middle schoolers still playing the game. My Highlander is on its last legs, but I’m hanging on for as long as possible.

  17. What a beautiful homage to your van! I love your descriptions: the objects you describe are symbolic such as the torn pocket or the pokemon stickers. This car is filled with memories of your children as they continue to grow…Wow! So many memories! Thank you for sharing.

  18. “Someday, I will have to bid goodbye to this van…
    Well, that ‘someday’ has arrived.”
    Your bridge between your earlier post and the new post parallels the evolution of your van and contributes to a poignant tone. Your sadness is embedded in the tangible memories you you are giving up. I’m sorry to hear it.

  19. Linda was right that it is a mobile scrapbook — no wonder you don’t want to part with it. Thank goodness you have a beautifully-written record of what it means to you. We don’t have a minivan at the moment, but we could use one. I wish I could buy yours!

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