Mar 23, 2014

Here's To Fifteen Passenger Vans.

I have realized that I simply must pay tribute to our big, white, 15 passenger van. I had no idea how I would miss it so. This week we sold it. Not an easy feat to sell a fifteen passenger van. Our driveway feels so empty now. We bought that van because of the arrival of child number seven way back in 2002. I fought the inevitable owning of a fifteen passenger van long and hard. I was determined that there was another car with nine seats option. But there was not. And despite all the teasing I got for being so little and driving such a big car. And despite all the gas guzzling comments I got. And in spite of all the strange looks I would get when I happened to be driving it around all alone... I miss it. I have never had a bond with a car before. I have never had so many things happen in a car I owned before. And even though we have not driven it very much in the past three years it was nice to always know it was there. Such a comforting presence.

The memories stored in that van are without number. It has been to so many states... from Oregon, to Massachusetts, to Texas, to Georgia, to Canada and so many in between.We put over 250,000 miles on this car. It has carried so many car loads of youth on their way to a church dance or a special activity. Women on their way to a 10 K run in Vermont. Trips to Ikea. At least three years of driving Ragnar runners. Loads of supplies for Trek.

How many past birthday parties of the Baird children were able to happen at fun locations because I could fit 15 in my car?
How many families we had piled into that van to take them on hikes with us, or to New York City with us, or to see caves, or the beach?
How easy it was to just throw a huge old Christmas tree in the back, two couches a friend gave us in Kansas, a load of lumber for a friends house, friends furniture, or bricks for my walkway?
How many Baird children got car sick in that car?
How many Baird children pried the windows open on the side doors because they locked the keys in it?How many Baird children learned to drive in that car?
How many car loads of moms and their babies car seats did that big white van carry to numerous fun destinations?
How many Baird children had tantrums in that van?
How many children have climbed on top of it and taken silly pictures?
How many conversations were started at gas stations or in parking lots because of this van?

I remember watching my oldest child drive down the road in Indiana in that van the day he got his drivers licence. I loved that when I came out of a store I could always see where I parked since it was so big and tall. I loved that we could fit a big cooler between the front seats. There was hardly ever in fighting about seats in that car. Always enough to go around. I always knew where to find non parking garage parking in big cities since the van was too tall for parking garages.

It was not the most comfortable ride that is one thing for sure. It was not the best sound system in the land that is another for sure. The body had acquired some rust throughout the years. Miriam had had an altercation with a pole at the gas station with it. I had had an altercation with the red pole at the mcdonalds drive through with it. Someone rear ended us on the ohio turnpike. All sorts of battle scars. The stickers of our family in the back window had long since faded. The NRA sticker and the Mitt Romney sticker hung on for dear life on the back windows.

There was a freedom that came with always knowing I never had to worry about not having enough room in my car. I will miss that freedom. So many great conversations were had in that car. As I sat in it a few days before it was gone I know it sounds dramatic but I could feel those conversations swirling all around me. Life has moved on. Four Baird children are gone. Gas guzzling is no longer in. And mom and dad Baird are getting a divorce.

So here is to everyone who got the chance to ride in the Baird's big white van. Maybe we should have a moment of silence? :) I know that despite it's flaws we all had some good times in that van.

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