I grew up in a 1980 Volvo 242 GT. In truth I don’t have an affinity for classic cars, nor do I know much about them. The only one I ever cared about was my grandparents Volvo. It was beautiful.
In some ways that Volvo was a lot like my grandparents. It was old to begin with, but it had good bones and was in decent shape. One could see that it was manufactured carefully–and with love–because it never broke down or spent the night in a repair shop. It’s navy blue seats were like carpet but softer, and speckled with coffee stains and cheerio crumbs. The entire vehicle smelled like must thinly masked by Trident chewing gum.
This car represented all the places I had been. It brought me home from my first day of Kindergarten, from trips to the ocean, from movies–no matter the place, it always brought me back to my grandparents.
I remember one drive home in particular. My grandfather was at the wheel, the soft drone of NPR hummed from the speakers, and I sat with both knees pulled close to my chest with one hand out the window. There was nothing but silence, the pleasant kind that’s a sort of talking all on its own. Out of nowhere my grandfather told me that I would grow up to do great things and go amazing places. I asked him how I would get to those places. He told me that I could take his car.
Twelve-year olds remember promises that their grandparents seldom do. Eventually, the time came to sell the Volvo. I was seventeen. The summer sun was turning the pavement into soup, and all I wanted to do was climb into that car, sink into it’s familiar carpet seats, and drive with the radio on and the windows down. I couldn’t; the Volvo was gone, replaced by a shiny new Prius. It had left shallow wells in the pavement of my grandparent’s driveway that the Prius didn’t fit into. Because of this, the car pitched slightly to the left when it was parked. It was sad really, how clear it was that something was missing. That night, I cried.
In the months that followed I changed a lot, for better and for worse. I see my path more clearly now. I think that when I was younger, it was blurred by the many years and experiences to come. Now it is clear– winding and rolling far into the future. I’m sure that this road I’m on will bring me to new places and experiences that will shape my life and who I am. However, what may prove to be most valuable to me, is the distance I have already traveled. The mountains I’ve seen, the rivers I’ve crossed, the many people I’ve waved at while driving by. The road the Volvo drove me down is who I am. The day I said goodbye to that car, was the end of something. Now, I see my new beginning. I have my road map, and I’m ready to take a drive.