I sat in the passenger seat of the Chevy van, a place which had sat on and off for the last fourteen and a half years. Humidity was building up in this early hot summer morning. In that steam, a drop of water crawled down the windshield, like a teardrop. In the state of mind that I was in, it seemed as though the van was crying, knowing that it fate was sealed. 😥
It could seem on this early Tuesday morning that nothing had changed. The van was in the same driveway it had known for ten years, the plates identifying it as ours were still on it. Many times it was parked in this same fashion as we prepared to hit the road with it, a faithful companion on travels to destinations unknown. But this time, this was no destination unknown. As far as my life was concerned, it was the final destination. Later on this day, the van that I had come to love and know would be nothing more than a trade-in. Sitting in the silence of the morning, looking out the window as I had for nearly a decade and a half, it seemed all so far away. And yet, it had never seemed so real.
The Chevy van had become part of our small family in the month of April 1995. It came during a period of acquisition after a long bout of crisis. Part of carpe diem, seize the day. Along with a dog and several other accouterments, the van was part of a cohort which symbolized life and the enjoyment of it. After years dealing with the medical problems of other people, it was time to get out and enjoy life. A van would be a perfect way to get out there and see the world that I had been missing all this time. And not any van. This was a Chevy g20 van. And not just that. It was a conversion van. When I bought the van way back then, I kept dreaming and planning of all the places that we would take it, what trails we would take. The adventures that awaited me, I could have only dreamed of before. With this van, they became reality. And I saw more than I would have if I had just jumped on a plane, zonked out in a state of jet lag, and zoned my way out of the airport feeling like I had been kidnaped by zombies.
For one, there was just the trips to Florida to see relatives. Then there was the one to Niagara Falls. As a conversion van, we were able to take out the seats in the back, creating our own mini camper. Rest stops became temporary hotel rooms, and the van, the dog, my husband and I were on the road crisscrossing the United States, and crossing into Canada once or twice. Because of the van, I visited thirty eight states in less than four years. Because of the van, I found the home of my dreams in the middle of the woods. It was in this home that the van resided, and in the driveway where I was spending my last hours with it before it was no longer mine. It was strange to say “last hours” after owning it for so long.
This last morning, I looked out the same passenger window that I had for fourteen years. Sometimes, I sat in the driver’s seat. But mostly, I felt comfortable looking out the passenger window, the way I was doing now. The scene I overlooked was like many I had witnessed over the years in the quiet rest stops of the morning, sometimes only with the hum of truck motors humming in the distance.
Today, there was not even that. Only the stillness of a summer morning, collecting heat for an afternoon torpor that was coming in the morning. I had shared this stillness many times with the van, where I was the only one awake, looking into fields of grass and trees and wishing for the calmness that they seemed to bring me here. From the chaos of the city and the suburbs, this van had taken me to a home where this scene was an everyday scan of the neighborhood. It was only fitting that after all this time, I spent a morning like I had many a time before with the van before I sent it away from me.
After some time, I went to the back of the van. For the longest time, we had driven the van without the second row of bucket seats and the bench seat in the back. It was easier to store stuff, easier for us to sleep in it, or camp in it. This was no longer relevant, and all the seats had been restored to their original place. I lay on the bench seat, letting myself doze out the last of the memories before the last moment came. So much time spent here, and it was almost over. At that realization, I was awake again.
If I looked out the window long enough, maybe the moment would last forever. All the time I had spent here, watching the world go by, on the fringe of life yet still a part of it. Those moments of reflections, they had defined me and changed me. I couldn’t recall the specifics, but I knew they were there. It was like it was all happening again, one last bang before reality changed, and this symbol in my life would move on, be no more. But if I looked long enough, perhaps I could remember.
The sun was hot, baking me inside the green van. I had many times like this before. For one more time, it was here again. Once more, the van was inviting me to world beyond my own borders. I was crossing another border again with it, and the moment I had now, I knew it would last forever.