Goodbye to a 4-wheeled old friend

I’m about to lose an old, dear friend. Like all friends, she could be occasionally difficult, but she has also been more fun than any other car I’ve ever driven.
Yes, it’s a car. And while there are millions out there who feel this way about their vehicles, this is new to me. With all my old cars, if it got me from point A to point B, I rarely cared about its curb appeal. I was always euphoric when it was time to replace it. But this time, my friend and I share far too many good memories.
My dad bought
the 1978 Volkswagen Westphalia camper van sometime in the late ‘80s. She was a quiet beige back then, but we borrowed her from time to time for camping and my kids used her as a playground in Grandpa’s driveway. When my parents downsized, my son begged to take custody, even though it would be two more years before he could drive. My husband just knew there was a real personality waiting to be revealed, so he had it painted red and the “magic bus” was born. The final product sealed my child’s cool factor throughout his high school years.
However, that child is now out of college and not even in this state. It sits in our driveway gathering spider webs unless I have something to haul or one of the other cars breaks down. Every time I drive it, someone always smiles and comments on how cool it is. I get to sit up high, lean on that big, round steering wheel and hear Rolling Stones tunes in my head. I especially love to drive it on a hot summer day. All you need do is open those most wonderful, now-absent car accessories, the wing windows. With the wings open, you get a fabulous breeze that will not ruffle one hair on your head, ladies. (We really need to lobby for the return of wing windows.)
Until about a year ago, neither my husband nor my son would even consider parting with her. We even got the engine rebuilt. “It’s a classic,” they would chime in unison. Then last summer, the impracticality of it suddenly loomed large and my son decided he was ready for something smaller. To my surprise, my husband agreed.
It’s now my job to find my friend a new home. I am awash in thoughts of driveway sleepovers, camping trips to the beach, class trips to the mountains, napping in the back while one child or another was taking an SAT test or at an N‘Sync concert, and taking teenagers for Slurpees with every one of them loving that goofy car.
All my friends recognized the red van, and I got regular reports of my son’s driving and whereabouts. Fortunately, it doesn’t often get up a lot of speed, towing a small kitchen and bedroom along with itself, and I feel as though it kept him safe in those early driving years.
I admit it needs someone to really love it. It needs surfboards in the back. It needs its propane tank hooked up, its stove turned on, water in its sink and someone curled up on its still rather-comfy mattress. It needs to be seen, admired and get to the beach more.
Just who will be cool enough for the magic bus?


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