Ten years ago, I bought a minivan.
While I was on the test drive, the dealer remarked how he and his wife had just gotten out of their minivan years. He seemed really excited, and I found it an interesting tactic to talk about how fabulous it is not to have to drive one, while trying to sell one.
At the time, I had a preschooler and an infant. The "post-minivan years" seemed very far away, indeed. I embraced the need for a minivan. I was excited by my new vehicle. It had all the bells and whistles, and smelled fabulous (of course!)
After time, the intoxicating new-car-leather smell was replaced by various kid smells, and the tan carpet attracted the dirt that I knew it was going to (but my mom insisted tan was the answer, since black would be too hot in the summer!) During the first year of getting a Christmas tree with the van, I stabbed the roof, ripping the fabric. I hit a mailbox. We had various spills of food and other stuff. Still, I loved my minivan. It was comfortable and sure hauled a lot of stuff. I could chaperone field trips and take a bundle of kids (and later basses and cellos for the Orchestra) with no problem. I transported rescued dogs to adoption fairs for awhile, too. (And yeah, that van saw the first-grade class rats, my now-deceased cat Becca, and my new kittens Ace and Echo.) The van took my oldest son to his first day of elementary school, and to his last. It took the family to Disneyland. It took us on other adventures, like to the beach or snow country.
My minivan has served me well.
But I have moved on to a new vehicle, one that fits my needs better, now that my sons are older.
It is time to sell the minivan. And so, I've been finding all the vitals such as the title (of course) and the extra third seat that I never did use.
But where did I store that third seat?
I spent the morning essentially cleaning / rearranging my shed. That's not to say that it is clean and newly-organized --it's not-- but it is in much better condition than when I started. After all, I couldn't tell if the darn seat was in there or not. (I thought maybe I was storing it at my parents' house, or maybe in one of the other sheds.)
Once I found the seat visually, I had to physically get to it.
I had to peel away layers of memorabilia, moving backwards ten years. For each year, I stored a large plastic Ziploc for each of my kids: their schoolwork, a couple pieces of "memory" clothing, ticket stubs, artwork galore, projects. In order to get at the minivan seat, I had to pick up each bag and move it out of the way.
I wasn't prepared to face those years.
I thought I was going out to the shed to yank the seat off a shelf and be done with it. I had no idea that I was jumping into a nostalgic vortex.
Sure, the waterworks will come in full force in a few months when my oldest attends his promotion ceremony from 8th grade to high school, and my youngest bids goodbye to elementary school. (Oh man, I'm going to lose it then: we moved to our current home specifically for that elementary school, and I'll have no kids left there?) But, just seeing the piles of their memories today was a gut punch.
What happened to those tiny kids? You know, those small creatures I had all strapped in their car seats in my minivan?