Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why I should not be allowed to leave Arlington without my minivan...

I know that there are some of you out there who look with scorn upon the minivan. They see its ability to carry six children at a time and liken it to the shackles of motherhood.

These people are either drunk or insane because the minivan is the carriage of the goddess.

I press buttons and the doors slide open. I press the button again and the doors close. No fumbling with door handles in the rain. We are able to happily transport friends to museums or the movies with us. Even with the van full of people, I can still stuff the trunk with good junk if I pass a particularly promising pile on trash day.

The first car that David and I bought together is our 1997 Honda CRV. It is shiny and red and sporty and when we bought it back in 2000 it was only a few years old. We fit both children in it and it was fine.

But then I took a few rides in minivans, vehicles that were as big as my living room and with better upholstery. A few of these minivans had GPS and DVD players and like a little crack addict I was hooked.

Two years ago we bought our minivan. We splurged on the leather seats, the GPS and the DVD player. I love this car. I vacuum it weekly. I polish it. I condition its heated leather seats.

The best part about this car are two features which work together beautifully. The GPS and the DVD.

How do they work together you ask? Here is my little secret: I have no sense of direction. At all. None. Zilch. When I was in high school and Michael Patterson, a boy who drove a red mustang and made my heart pound, offered to drive me home from school I panicked. I wasn't exactly sure how to get home! It was a risk I was willing to take but I don't know which had me more nervous- trying to will him to love me forever or figuring out how to get home.

Anyway, The GPS gets me where I need to go and the DVD keeps the children quiet while we are getting there. Symbiosis pure and simple.

Today there was a problem. Today David had the minivan and I was driving the Honda and reader, after driving my minivan the CRV feels like a brick on wheels. The bigger problem however was that the girls and I needed to be at a theater in Harvard by 5pm.

Have you ever driven in the Boston area? If you haven't then try to imagine a city whose roads where all once cow paths. Now imagine those curvy cow paths with inconsistent one way signs and no street signs. You are now in Boston.

In my defense, I printed up directions and a map. Of course these were mostly useless. We spent about 45 minutes driving around Harvard Square searching for Oxford St which kept hiding from us. This would not have been so annoying had the children been distracted from my navigational incompetence and not felt it necessary to point out that we had passed Harvard Yard again and again and again.

"Are we there?"

"Is this it?"

"Why are we turning around?"

"Is this our street?"

"Are we going to be late?"

"What are we going to have for dinner?"

"Why are we turning around again?"

"Are we lost?"

"Mommy did you just swear?"

Finally I found our street and parked and even found a sign pointing to the building which we were looking for. Of course, this being Boston, it did not actually lead to the building we needed, but never mind. We wandered about Harvard feeling stupid and then lo, in the distance we found our destination.

Once there we saw a lovely musical, more on this another time, because all too soon it was time to leave.

By some miracle we found the car and off we went. Even though it's a very well lit area I couldn't help but notice that something seemed odd with the headlights. They seemed dark. Hmmm.

Oh well, I kept driving and fiddling with them. It seemed that I could make them either very bright or very dark. I haven't driven that car at night in years so I assumed that I just wasn't used to them.

We were in Arlington before I figured out that I had been alternately driving with just the running lights on and no headlights or just the high beams. When I made my discovery I sort of shouted a bit which led to the questions.

"Mommy, why are you talking to yourself?"

"Is something wrong?"

"What's wrong?"

"Where we driving in the dark?"

"Is that legal?"

"Will you get arrested?"

"Mommy, are you swearing again?"

I think I'll just stay home for a while. I rarely get lost here.


Ginger said...

I'm glad you made it to and from the theater safely. The part about the headlights reminds me of when I had to use my daughters suv to pick them up from the airport in Las Vegas. I couldn't find the darn light switch (she has a Toyota) and I thought the lights were automatic like on my chevy. Nope...drove at night to the airport with no headlights.
Found out later they are on the turn signal handle. What??? who puts the lights on the steering column? lol.

Cheryl said...

Ah, the joys of driving in Boston. Especially in the area of the great university. So many horror stories, so little space. And after reading this, all those bad memories I thought I was done with have come swarming to the surface like a hive of angry bees.

God bless you for making it back to Arlington without killing a child. You were obviously out of your freakin' mind when you took an unfamiliar, and may I add uncomfortable (we have one so I know), vehicle into the city that laughs at you with each wrong turn.

I'll drive in NYC, DC, Chicago, Detroit, and even LA but the mere thought of a trip into Boston makes me shake. Which explains why I have no culture...I can't get to it.

Karen said...

My kids still occasionally like to remind me, "Mom, remember the time the policeman on the horse had to help us get home?" Yes, I got lost coming home from the Museum of Science, where I had been 50,000 times before.

Thea said...

Yes, but one of the fabulous things about being in Arlington is that you never have to drive in Cambridge or Boston -- I highly recommend the T! Even after a whole weekend on the NYC subway, the T rocks.

Amy said...

Yup. If they are going to put vortexes on the roads, the least they could do is give us some good "VORTEX AHEAD" signage.

I can tell you, though, a sense of direction is a curse in Boston. Particularly when it leads you to second-guess the GPS...

:) Glad you made it home with no injuries, particularly to the children.

Pom Pom said...

I like reading about how you love and appreciate your van, taking such good care of it. That's sweet.

Julie said...

I love my van. It has a name. "green car" No automatic doors but I love being able to have the back door up and shielding me from rain while I casually put things in the van and other people are scrambling with their coat over their head.

GretchenJoanna said...

I loved all my various vans and miss them! Maybe you have inspired me to write about driving, and vans. Certainly I admire your fortitude driving where you do.

Anonymous said...

wow- I'd love to be sympathetic, but I realize that you are driving around when you should not be- if you live in arlington and can't get to harvard square without a GPS, you should be taking the bus.