Travelin’, man


The last time that I saw the Volkswagen was in 2014. It just got too old. The parts were getting harder and harder to find and the gas tank was shit. The engine was less than desired, but the sputtering reminded me of its younger days. Those were days when my parents and I would crowd in the back and travel wherever we felt like.

When I was younger, the Volkswagen was primarily used for traveling up and down and all around the country. I don’t recall ever going too far with it, maybe as far as the Red Woods, because the engine and gas were already starting to break down on us. At the time, my parents were encouraged to travel with the Volkswagon because of my grandparents. They had a pretty cool Shasta camper from the 70’s and a Thousand Trails membership. We would drive the Volkswagen over to wherever they were, and camp out with them for a few days.

The Volkswagon was huge. You could fold down the bench seat in the back to create at least a full-size mattress. It fit all three of us at the time. Sometimes, Cleo, my grandparent’s dog, would even be able to fit on there with us. My favorite part of the Volkswagen were the seats that sat backward. I would love sitting on those seats and pretending I was going the wrong way. I was, I just had a wilder imagination back then. One time, I pretended that I was being kidnapped and tied to the back of the seat so that I couldn’t see where I was being kidnapped. Most of the time, I would love sitting there, because the dogs would take up the bench seat and they wouldn’t move.

Before my parents inherited the Shasta, the Volkswagen felt like a plane to me. It had a huge aisle that ran down from dashboard to the center of the car. There was plenty of leg room, storage space under the seats, and the seats reclined only a little. There was a table that folded out and could be mounted in the middle if needed. Beside the seats, there were cup holders. I had only been on a plane once when my parents and I went to London for my father’s business trip. The Volkswagen gave me the freedom to go places that I could only dream of. I went to the Grand Canyon in the Volkswagen.

The funny thing is, the Volkswagen didn’t belong to my father, it belonged to my grandfather. When it was not in use, my grandfather would store it in the empty space beside the garage. A few years later, he would build a car port just for the Volkswagen. Crazy, man.

For a time, the Volkswagen was the primary source of transportation to school. I went to a once a week school for homeschooled children. I guess it was a way for these kids to socialize and not become basement hackers. Since it was a drive to get to the school, my parents and I would pile into the van with lunch and picnic blankets in hand. We were at the school for the whole day, so we would just camp out in the parking lot.

It was super convenient actually. Between classes, I could go over to the Volkswagen and eat a snack or chill with my parents. I actually had one of my most embarrassing moments as a kid in the Volkswagen. It was the classic pee myself in public scenario, but public meaning school. I can laugh about this now because I know that it will probably never happen again until I get old and need diapers.

I was in science when I really needed to go pee. You probably already know how this goes because, don’t deny it, it’s happened to you. I just let it go, hoping that no one would notice. What I failed to realize is that there was a puddle on the floor, a streak on my pants, and it kinda started to smell. Dumb me actually went to the next class like it was no big deal. It wasn’t until lunch time when I made a break for it and ran to the Volkswagen. I hopped in and my mother’s nose perked up instantly.

Tsk. “What did you do? Do you pee your pants?”

I looked down at my pants and nodded. She said a few angry words in Thai. She didn’t do anything that I was expecting. If I did something naughty, she would spank me or lightly slap me on the head. Instead, she looked at her watch and slid the door closed. She hopped into the driver’s seat and started up the car.

“Where are we going?” I asked her.

“You need new clothes.” Tsk. She mumbled some more words in Thai.

I felt ashamed and embarrassed. I didn’t know until she started mumbling words in Thai that I had done something horrible. I started to think about all the other students I sat next to in class and what they thought. I started to cry. She quickly drove to the nearest clothing store, ran in, ran out, and handed me a fresh pair of underwear and new pants. The soiled clothes were thrown into a plastic bag and deposited in the nearest trash can. It amazed me that she knew what to do without thinking. I think that’s a mother thing, they know what to do before it happens. When we got back to the school, I had just enough time to eat a lunch. Before I left for my next set of classes, she looked at me and she said, “You owe me $23.46.”

“I don’t have any money.”

“I know, but just remember that you owe me now.”

After my parents retired the Volkswagen from traveling completely, they bought a truck and a new camper. I’m not completely sure what happened to my grandparent’s camper, the probably sold it. As for the Volkswagen, we only started using it to drive my grandparents around when they got older. After my grandfather died, we started using it to drive my grandmother to the Navy base to get groceries. You see, she never drove. She was afraid to, and she never saw the use of it when she had my grandfather to drive for her.

My father sold the Volkswagen after my grandmother died. He said that it was getting too old and run down. We didn’t have any use for it anymore. At that point, they had their own car, I had my own car. There was no one else to use it. My grandparent’s house went to my father’s brother, and he didn’t want the Volkswagen. I’m sure it must be in car heaven thinking about all the adventures we went on.

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