Saying good-bye to my 11-year-old minivan was harder than I thought.
On the second day of this year, I bought a new vehicle, a gray boxy Honda Pilot — not brand-new with eight miles, like I did last time, but a 2013 with moderate miles. I went with an older model because I have had a soccer-mom carpool-mom minivan for 11 years and I was ready for something different, but I still wanted the cargo space.
That was such a thrilling day.
It's so exciting to finally upgrade my garage-dweller. (Although I sometimes think I spend more time in my vehicle than it actually does in the garage.)
I've talked about getting a newer car for more than a year, but I wasn't eager to have a monthly payment again. It was time, though, I told myself. I deserved it, I said.
I love driving around town in my new ride. It's so 21st century, with its aux cord and HDD and a bunch of other stuff I’m still figuring out.
So, I wasn't expecting the wave of sadness that came over me when I saw the Odyssey driven off to auction. That giant, blue, eight-seater box on wheels was taking off with more than a decade of memories of time spent with my toddlers and teens and young adults.
This was the family car that shuttled my children and their friends to dance practice and soccer games; to gymnastics classes and scouts; to elementary, middle and high school. It has made trips to and from Tallahassee to get the college girl set up in the fall and bring her back home again for the summer. A few times it got us to the hospital.
I held the title as main minivan driver, but my roles were diverse when the family was in tow. I was the driver-seat referee, keeping arguing kids in line. I was the movie theater manager, controlling what movie discs were popped in the player.
I was the counselor, giving my son and daughter guidance through life, whether or not they asked for it. I was the lead performer — with the kids as my backup singers — on a cajillion Disney and radio and CD songs.
We had silly and heartfelt and serious and nonsensical conversations in that mom-van. Both kids learned to drive in that car.
It has protected us in rain and snow, in hurricane-force winds, on a 1,000-mile road trip to Texas and numerous treks to the beach and the family cabin in North Carolina.
I have cleaned up drink spills and vomit, and sometimes a mixture of the two, the result of too much cherry Slurpee. That car has been in countless drive-thrus and has driven who-knows-how-many miles to the malls.
When it came time to clean out the Odyssey, I hadn't planned to spend quite that much time in it. I think I removed about 80 pounds of papers, cups, movies, Happy Meal toys, pens, plastic bags, shoes (don’t tell me you don’t use your car as a mobile closet), books and flat-out trash. Yes, I said Happy Meal toys. Since my children are 16 and 20, that tells you how often the minivan had a thorough cleaning on the inside.
I expect I can keep my new SUV much neater with only one kid at home now — although he is rarely a passenger because he has his own transportation, his own car to clutter up. If you ever ride with me, chances are I’ll still have to move at least two pairs of shoes from the passenger floorboard before you can get in. I might try to tell you how to manage your life, too, since I’m doling out less advice these days from behind the wheel.
Contact Amy Quesinberry Rhode at [email protected].