Ive always had a love/hate relationship with my 2002 minivan.
It is exceedingly practical, which is fine and dandy.
Need to travel to Burlington to see my niece play volleyball? No problem. Need to do it with five people and a Vespa-like scooter? Yep, no problem there, either.
The minivan is versatile and reliable, but its so boring while its doing it.
I feel like its just not my style of car. (I think of myself as more of a Tesla Model S kind of girl a little sporty, a little geeky and trying to do some good for the environment.)
Over the years, I have toyed with the idea of moving the minivan out of the garage when there is an imminent big weather event. An ice storm, for example. A large tree would fall on it and the decision would be made time for a new car!
Oh, the places we went
When the minivans odometer turned 200,000 miles last fall, I began to think of all the places we have gone together and all the life events it has seen us through.
• There were countless trips across the state and even the Southeast for soccer games and track meets, toting not only our family but many other kids.
• We went to IKEA in D.C. and Charlotte to bring furniture back to our house. We removed all the seats in the van and loaded it up with purchases. It has even been borrowed by friends to make their own IKEA trips.
• It drove me to Florida when my mom decided she wanted to move to be near family here. We loaded up a bunch of her more delicate things before the movers got there, then off I came back to North Carolina, tickled to know my mom would soon be closer.
• It has taken both my boys to college, packed to the brim with their most important possessions.
More difficult trips
And then there were the difficult things:
• The minivan took my older son to the hospital for major surgery when he was in high school, then opened its wide sliding doors for him as he slowly and carefully got back in a week later for the trip home.
• It has been to Kentucky twice so that I could visit my dad in the hospital.
• It took my husband and me to West Virginia last year when we got the call that our younger son had been in an automobile accident while at college. He was hit by a drunken driver and was trapped in the car. An ambulance was standing by for him while the police cut away the car. The minivan got us to our son, then opened its doors wide again for him when we had to bring him back to North Carolina, ending his first semester much sooner than we ever imagined.
Despite his fractured vertebrae and a left leg that was in a brace from thigh to ankle, we could reasonably get him in and out of the car to his many doctor, lab and physical therapy appointments.
Ive heard other people talk about the sadness they felt when they parted with their first car the one they got as a teenager and worked on and washed and had fun in as life was just beginning for them. They speak fondly of those vehicles.
I have never had that feeling about a car (especially not the hunk of junk I had in college). But this minivan is growing on me.
We have laughed in that car, and we have cried in that car. I just might shed a tear when its time to say goodbye.
In the meantime, it just keeps going. Were at 218,000 miles now.
I dont know when it will end. But at this point, Im OK that it hasnt.
Susan Ebbs is a News & Observer researcher.
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