I believe a car can say a lot about a person.
I drove a Suburban in college. It was 15 years old, had a thick orange stripe down the side that was once touched up with acrylic paint after a minor accident, and my Dad was constantly reminding me to “check the oil”. It was awesome. On my 20th birthday my Dad installed a horn in my dash that played over 22 different songs. It took a while before people realized that I did not in fact sell ice cream. My Suburban earned a nickname during those years. Two in fact. Its primary term of endearment was “The Beast”, but since it also took a long time for the heater to warm up in the winter months, my friend Jon liked to call it “The Fridge”. The Beast was a really fun college car. I still remember putting 17 people in it with my 6’7” friend Shawn lying on the hood, posing as a hood ornament and driving through Taco Bell to order a water with 17 straws. Ahhh…college life. It’s startling to think we actually thought we were hysterical (*wink*wink* to my new friend Randi).
You see, I was the kind of person in college who loved the cars that had been converted from a hearse to a painted cow. I thought that people who drove cars like that must have had tremendous personality. And when I drove down 700 East playing "The Yellow Rose of Texas" for all the neighbors to hear, I too felt like one with character. The only other car I wished I could have had during that time was a Jeep. I imagined that the kind of people who drove Jeeps wore jeans and t-shirts and went hiking and ate Odwalla Bars under pine trees and roasted s’mores every weekend, and that seemed like a good life. Anyway, I always wanted a car like that. After I graduated college I had to surrender the Beast back to my parents, then Cory and I got married and we shared his Nissan Sentra. We moved to Colorado, put ski racks on the top and drove it to the mountains in our early married life as if to say, “We are young and sporty.” Samantha was born, and I believe that this is when all my minivan issues started.
There seemed to be this notion that when the sperm connects with the egg, one should go out and sign a contract for a Dodge Caravan. Well, I wouldn’t have it. I couldn’t bear to be one of 129 minivans in the church parking lot on a given Sunday. To me, buying a minivan was like becoming inoculated with a Stepford injection of the Mormon kind and that the side effects involved the denim jumper becoming my constant companion and wood crafts becoming an at-home business. We bought a Honda Accord.
Shortly after Drew came along, the pressure to become minivan-ized intensified. “They’re so roomy”, “It’s so easy to get kids in and out”, “You can drive other kids”, blah blah blah. First of all, since when did “driving other kids” around ever serve as suitable motivation for anything? Oh, so you mean to tell me that not only can I fit MY kids in there, but I can drive YOURS to school too??? How could I have overlooked all of these perks?? We bought a Ford Explorer. Its maiden voyage on I-225 blasting Depeche Mode’s "I Just Can’t Get Enough" on my new 6-CD changer was an epic journey. My sunroof was open, my windows were down, I sang along and bobbed my head to the beat. There was plenty of room, I had no problem getting my kids in and out, and I wasn’t carting along other children that didn’t belong to me. It was the car I had always wanted, and it not only fit my family but it fit my personality.
The car is now 10-years-old and starting to fade in its glory. A few months ago we were taking my family to the Renaissance Festival and my kids were each bringing a friend. It didn’t even occur to me that we didn’t have seats for everybody until the day before. My friends were on vacation in Florida, and I knew their minivan was sitting in their garage. I called their cell phone and asked if they would mind if we borrowed their van for the day. They graciously agreed.
We got in and I thought, “Wow, it’s really roomy.” We drove the hour or so to the festival and when we arrived I noted, “Hey, the kids sure got out of there with ease”. And finally, “The kids had so much more fun here with their friends. It’s a good thing we were able to borrow the van so we could take them along.”
This last weekend was good. Friday we took the Explorer to do exactly what its title suggests and we went 4-wheeling in the mountains:
Then we went hiking at 10,000 feet above timberline to this:
And on Saturday, we went and bought this:
Not quite so different from an Explorer, an Odyssey also bears a connotation of adventure, right? Ithaca, here we come.