My car is a mess. Not only from the rain that has plagued our region of late and the sap spray from the oak tree in our front yard, but from the tornado that rips through my car each time I transport my children. My kids are ages 7 and 11. We have encouraged their participation in various sports and extracurricular activities and take pride in their accomplishments. However, this also means that we are rarely home, living evenings and weekends speeding from one end of town to the next, cheering for the child of the hour and basking in their smile as we do. The car pays the price.
And yes, I did say sap spray. For some reason when ever I park my car in my driveway, after a undetermined amount of time, there is a fine mist of sap blanketed over my car. A mist so fine that it is only noticeable when I am sitting inside my car keys in hand, ready drive to that destination where a clean car would be preferred. The sap does provide a nice sheen. Just not a sheen that promotes the longevity of my car’s paint job.
I am not entirely innocent. The science experiment that was once a banana was left on my passenger seat before we departed for an 8-day cruise. I would like to blame the kids for distracting me to the point that I forgot my uneaten banana as I chased them into the house for some violation of the family code. Not so much. I do not think they were even in my car that day. The car was just the victim of my distracted mind.
However, the majority of the mess is from my children. I like to think of my car as the toy store of no return. At any given time, there are probably no fewer than five toys from the kids meals obtained at a drive-thru window while on our way to the sporting activity of the day. Closely related are straw wrappers. I am pretty good about removing out and out trash. I make the kids do it mostly, but it seems that the straw wrappers are like magnets to the floor of my car, jumping out of the kids’ hands and diving into the abyss.
The amount of straw wrapper and kids meal toys are followed by a close second by a score of socks. I do not understand what it is about getting into my car, but both kids suddenly feel the need to strip their shoes and socks off almost immediately. Getting out of the car, they always tend to slip their shoes back on to their feet without their socks. Now, I really do not blame them for not caring to put sweaty socks back on their feet, but why take them off in the first place?
I drove my colleagues to lunch this week but gave them fair warning about my car, cautioning them not to look too closely at what lurked at their feet. And really, that is the key. My car does not look all that messy from a far. As my three colleagues squeezed in the back seat, they handed me some glass rocks, or as my children would call them, “treasures”, that were lying in the crevice of the seat. I have no clue the origin of these particular treasures. But the sight of them brought me back to a story from my son’s early childhood. He was about five years old and not yet in Kindergarten. It was beautiful Sunday morning and we had planned to go on a small hike at a park near our house with his friends and their families. One of the dad’s had thought ahead and brought some of these glass rocks with him. When the boys were not paying attention, he had run ahead and placed them in the river for the boys to find. I still remember the squeals and excited looks on the boys faces, followed by their theories on where the treasures could have come from. Pirates, perhaps?
As I told this story to my colleagues, I felt myself smiling from my head to my toes. And in that moment, I did not mind how dirty my car might have been that day. The treasure found in the abyss provided me with a gift.
So, while my car might appear battered and worn from time to time, I cannot help but reminisce about all of the special memories that it holds. Family moments. Trying moments. Moments that I would never trade for a car wash, any day of the week.
Marsi lives in San Diego, CA with her husband, two children and dog. A private foundation grants writer by trade, Marsi explores her creative side by contributing to Writing Writer Writest. She is a breast cancer survivor and keeps a blog of her journey, entitled Nip-It.