It’s the van, always the van.
R had a van when we met. It was cute, a cheery, old, light blue VW bus we called Miffy. Miffy took us skiing and hiking, she waited as we climbed mountains, went snow camping. We could sleep in the back, protected if it rained, gazing at the stars through the sun-roof when it cleared.
Riding up front in all VW Vans is sometimes terrifying, there is no buffer between you and the outside world. The engine is in the back. Up front, it’s just the glass of the windshield. I used to sit with my feet up, heels on the dash, toes resting on the windshield. Leaving the gas station one day, R whipped Miffy around on her fabulous turning radius, a post appeared way too close to my face and… “crack”.
Yes, three months into our relationship I broke R’s windshield by pushing my feet into it. No, he didn’t come even close to hitting a post. Totally unfazed R tells me, “It’s okay, it would have broken sooner or later.”
VW Van owners wave to each other as they pass on the road.
We sold Miffy when we decided to have a baby. Miffy was a lot of fun, except when she broke down on every vacation we took. The hose-clamps and bungee cords holding her together were safe enough for us, but not for a baby. We bought a reliable vehicle that never once broke down, and never ever made R happy. So later we bought another van, and another after that. Our third van, again blue, was towed to the shop Friday. I told my daughter we were going to sell it.
‘Oh no’ she said “who is dad without the van?”
The shop called R twice today to discuss repairs, and each time he passed the phone to me. I am deciding which fix to apply to the heater core, the cracked boot, the coolant pipes. My car’s problems have always had two solutions; fix or don’t fix. Vans seem to have five choices for everything; repair, replace, reroute, remove, or repress the fact you need this repair. Armed with hose clamps and bungees, R had even more options.
I made the repair decisions, went into the shower, and cried. “Why is it the van that sends me over the edge?” I wonder through my tears. The actual Alzheimer’s Diagnosis, the getting lost, the almost killing us in the mountains, the constant search for keys, none of this makes me cry.
The van does it every time. I need to get it fixed, and we need to sell it, and I feel waves and waves of grief.
Again, with the van. It is running again.
I feel like a van myself. It’s clear there is a problem here; a leak in my tear ducts, an over-heated core. Focusing on the symptoms, rather than the cause, I contemplate my options.
- Don’t sell the van. Leave it parked in front of the house. It is a cheery sight, keep it (daughter’s vote is with this option).
- Go on one more big van trip, and then sell it. This is a weak point of mine; I think that I can somehow absorb and perform all the skills that R had. Super-navigator, outdoor provider, van-driver. While discussing this option, I tell R I can’t even find fifth, he notes that it only has four gears, and I shouldn’t worry so much.
- Be an adult already, sell the van.
- Procrastinate! Before the sale we must: vacuum. Smog. Detail with cue-tips. Shampoo the carpet. Wash the exterior and take a photo shoot. Write copy. Research the price. Advertise. Talk to buyers.
I’m going for option #4.