This I Believe

Mary - Edina, Minnesota
Entered on March 23, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: family
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Our family van has almost 200,000 miles on it I have driven that “little green” all over the country on road trips with my two daughters, when they were too young to drive and willing to accompany me on those long trips. They became accustomed to these trips, making preparations the day before with their favorite pillows, stuffed animals, blankets and books for the hours of driving, by me. It was usually just the three of us, taking the back roads through Kansas, Iowa and Oklahoma, on the way to Texas, from Minnesota to see their Grannie and Grandpa. These were times that I could be certain that they would read their books, away from computers and television and other distractions.

Now my daughters are growning up and the van is showing its age. Each time it breaks down, we get it fixed and I always say, “cheaper than a car payment!” My husband says, “we keep putting money into that car!” The truth is, I am attached to it. It has a history with me, I like the way it smells (sometimes like a wet dog) and there are a few dents that hold stories behind them. It has rust spots as well. Instead of trading “green” in for something shinier and snazzier, with an attitude, I have decided to keep it, as long as I can. Instead of being ashamed of the rust spots, I have celebrated them by covering them with flowers. People smile when they see it. I wave and smile back. Now, I can’t imagine ever parting with it! It is my “signature” in the neighborhood, parked proudly next to all the most sophisticated SUV’s. I am proud of my “art car”. My neighbor’s now call me “the hippie” and ask if I”have any pot”. The teenagers revel at my work, saying “that’s cool”. The children who climb our trees light up when they first notice it. It is unusual, and my mother always told me that was a good thing to be.

It represents what I believe. That you hold on to your history, that you use something up until its all gone, that you respect that which is old and especially if its paid for, that you CAN paint flowers on your cars and not get arrested. But most importantly, that young people don’t need to be discouraged if they can’t afford a perfect car when they are 17 or 20. I want to exemplify that you CAN make a creative statement everyday, with your car. My next addition will be a phrase “life is best lived serendipitiously”.

And finally, I am doing something really good for the environment; I am keeping one more car off of the heap on the land. I feel so proud.

Mary XX, artist

Mother of two daughters, and a beagle.