We bought our 1996 White Dodge Caravan in 2002 when Sis was a baby. Back then it was the most pimped out ride I had ever driven. Leather seats, remote keyless entry, antilock brakes, automatic windows and locks, CD stereo system with four speaker volume control, and, what I didn’t realize until just this past year, a back-seat cigarette lighter into which I could have been plugging our mini DVD player for the last 7 years.
When we moved from Utah to Idaho Falls in 2006, the minivan (shall we call her Dodgie?) didn’t acclimate well to the weather, and lost her bumper our first winter there. (Metaphorically speaking I may have lost my bumper that winter too.)
|Still in denial about the bumper's fate..|
In the summer of 2007 the ex and I separated, and, in a symbolic gesture, the minivan, having lost her bumper (and perhaps her dignity), became the Frump-mobile. There was that small accident that dinged in the driver door and a run-in with a red fence that left a nasty mark on the passenger side. One hot summer afternoon shortly thereafter Spunk swung, albeit briefly, from the rear view mirror and broke it from the windshield, which now, by the way, has more cracks than a plumbers convention (wit flows from me like a river, people). And also did you know that if your children spill just one melted McDonald's sundae on the carpet, Heloise herself cannot extract the odor of sour milk that wafts afresh each spring?
This vehicle had become a symbolic representation of what single motherhood looked like to me. Ugly, right? And a little stinky.
The old girl had nearly 160,000 miles on her when she died this past Saturday in the driveway outside my parents’ house. It wasn’t unexpected; her transmission had been failing for nearly 6 months, and me, being the poverty-stricken single mom that I am, had been turning a blind eye, hoping it was like some car virus that would go away if I drove her enough. It didn’t go away. And yes, apparently I did drive her enough.
When I realized what had happened, I cried. In fact, I wallowed for about 45 minutes as I counted the days until Christmas, my waning freelance projects, and the spare change in my wallet. My math skills may be limited, but even I could see it didn’t add up to much. So I did what any able-minded person does in such circumstances; I posted about it on Facebook. “1996 White Dodge Caravan with a missing bumper—RIP.” That one phrase, while fairly innocuous, was loaded with despair.
Then my cousin responded: “Farewell to the last remnant of your old life!”
And there was light.
The minivan that had driven me from Utah to Idaho Falls through one divorce and then on to Washington state was gone, and with it all those weighty and ugly expectations I had associated with single motherhood. In the moment I read that comment I decided that this was rock bottom, and the only place we were going from here was up (cue “I Can See Clearly Now”).
I, in bidding farewell to the Frump Mobile, am in the drivers seat, no longer encumbered by my own limiting expectations of what single motherhood should be. From now on, it's going to be totally fab. So while I may not have a vehicle (note to Ellen DeGeneres: I would scream like a ninny if you gifted me a Buick Regal), I now know that our future is bright because I have finally decided that it will be.
That, and I'll stop having nightmares about sour milk and plumbers conventions.