Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Going Places: June Writing Contest at Scribbit

I was born in 1976, the same year my parents purchased their first new car, a 1976 Chevy Chevette. And five short years later they had enlarged the family with two more girls and a 1976 Chevy Van. This was no mini-van. We had a full-sized van with two bench seats and about five feet of storage space in the back. It was chocolate brown with a tan stripe and a complicated sliding door that none of our friends could latch. My parents didn't just just use our van to transport three and later four little girls around to a myriad of children's activities - we also used our van to transport our family to a veritable nirvana of bonding opportunities, the family vacation. Oh yes, we were going places.

In the early days, my parents couldn't afford plane tickets to fancy destinations, but being the wise nurturers they are, they knew family vacations were important. So we would load up the van and drive to exotic locations such as our favorite camp site on the Graham Mountains or the best hole in the wall motel in San Carlos, Mexico. And these trips make up some of my fondest childhood memories. With four girls, we each had our own place. The youngest could fit on the floor between my parents' front seats. A bench each for the two middle sisters, which left the back free for me, the privledge of being the oldest. My Dad would fashion a little bed on one side out of foam pads and blankets and pack the other side all the way to the ceiling. It's probably a miracle I was never killed by a falling pile. I would sit back there with my Walkman, listening to Air Supply and reading my books. And daydreaming about boys too, as I got a little older.

Many times we vacationed with other families, with lots of other kids. Once I became a teenager my friends would ride in the van with me and we'd slouch in the back bench, sharing a set of headphones and listening to They Might Be Giants. It takes about twelve hours to get to San Carlos, Mexico from Arizona and our van made the trip four times through the years, usually pulling a boat. We even have a lot of family pictures standing right in front of that van - four girls with bad perms and big smiles revealing shining, silver braces.

My Dad loaded up our van at 3:30 one Saturday morning for a trip to California and I spent the whole trip reveling in the magic of my first kiss, the night before. And I imagine my sisters and I doled out a few kisses of our own over the years, right in the brown van itself. After I graduated from high school, my whole family made the trek to Utah to deliver me to college for the first time. And the van carried all the people who were the most important in my life, and all my worldly possessions. Oh yes, I was going places. In a 1976 Chevy Van.

This essay has been submitted to the June writing contest at Scribbit.

5 comments:

Jane @ What About Mom? said...
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Scribbit said...

Oh that's irony--the first car we had married was a Chevy Chevette borrowed from my dad's office. It might as well have been held together with duct tape!

Candice said...

my favorite part is the bad perms and braces. Is that the same Chevette that you used to drive in high school? Air Supply and They Might Be Giants.....man does that bring back memories! I remember listening to them too. Great writing Tara, full of imagery.

Jane @ What About Mom? said...

I used to love riding in my parents van. They'd make the back into a bed, and I could read for hours (without a seatbelt, ah, the good old days!). Luckiest thing of my life, to not get car sick. Well, that and a couple other things!

Aaron said...

Takes me back to the days when we would pile into our Ford full-size van and drive all day (actually 3 hours, but it felt like all day) to our grandparent's cabin in the mountains. Whenever we stopped or turned our little Westie dog would go flying off the wood cupboards she lay on (yes our van had wooden cupboards) and right herself, look around to see what happened and jump right back up there (it was her favorite napping spot).