Our longtime VW has left the nest

It is singularly odd to find myself sad and jubilant at the same time. I am in minor mourning because we finally sold my son’s 1978 VW camper van. I suspect my boy is a little bit sad, too, but he remains in Boston — the last place one needs a VW camper van. Nor would it survive the trip to Boston, even if he did want it.
We made the decision to find it a new home, but I never really advertised it. It was classic approach-avoidance syndrome. I was waiting for a sign. It came after the bus sat in our driveway for so long the spider webs had nearly disguised the dents. The perfect new owner, the father of a teenager in our neighborhood, strolled by one Sunday walking his dog. He and his high school-sophomore son were looking for a van to fix up together and, he queried innocently, “Were we considering selling it?”
I think I scared him a little. I was so excited to finally find exactly the kind of person I wanted to inherit the van that I practically talked his ear off. The poor man had no idea how much emotional baggage went with buying this particular car.
It took another couple of weeks, but father and son took it for a spin this weekend and the deal was sealed. With tears threatening, I handed off the key. I was restored, however, by the grin on the kid’s face as he sat in the driver’s seat.
I have written regularly about that great old car. It is such an icon, and once we painted it fire engine red, it took on a special personality. I never drove it without a stranger waving, smiling or flashing the peace sign. It was so much fun.
It took my son to La Costa Canyon High School and back for four years and was the envy of all his friends. Eventually, it was driven mostly during summer breaks. Still, I will decidedly miss being able to haul very nearly anything to the dump in it, and being able to help any friend move furniture. But more than that, I have 25 years of memories attached to it.
Once my dad bought it, sometime in the late 1980s, it became a playground for my very young children when we visited. We camped in the mountains, we camped at the beach and eventually, my dad handed it down to his 14-year-old grandson. I drove it off and on until my boy-child finally got his license, but as it has no power steering, I was happy to hand it off to someone with upper body strength.
            I can no longer scoff at people who “love” their cars. I loved that van for no practical reason. It had just become part of the family. The joy now is knowing its new family will make it an even sweeter version of its former self. What more could we ask?
We finally found out who was cool enough for the big, red bus. The torch is passed. Peace.


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