Item: 1998 Volvo V70 station wagon
Acquisition date: 1998
Place of acquisition: West Palm Beach, FL
Associated memory: Babies, my first marriage
Current condition: Rusty, broken air conditioning, fallen headliner
In 1998, when I left Manhattan for suburban South Florida, I hadn’t owned a car for 11 years. Didn’t want one. Didn’t need one. I had the subways and the buses, my own two feet and eventually, a boyfriend turned husband who had a beat-up Hyundai.
But I knew I would need one here in suburbia. Where you get in your car to drive a mile or so to the closest strip mall so you can buy just about everything. And then some.
I chose a station wagon over a minivan because I figured, in addition to my one year old son, I’d be having another kid, not a whole army of children. Plus, I hated the minivan mom image. Dowdy, dumpy, frumpy.
No, for me, it was a station wagon and my station wagon of choice was a Volvo. Their Swedish marketing was just spot on. It spoke to me. Safe, sleek and not a Ford Taurus.
Luckily there was a demo model at the local dealership. It had 8,000 miles on it and it was priced nicely. Best of all, it was a dark metallic green. My favorite color.
I was in love. And drove it home that day.
And for four years, it served me well. I carted my son and his baby sister everywhere in it. The beach, pre-school, Publix and semi-frequent road trips down to Miami to see the grandparents. For a mom car, it was pretty cool.
Then I got divorced. And with the divorce came sole custody of the car. A car that gave me a little security driving around in a sea of moms who weren’t divorced. Yes, I admit it. The car made me feel like I still fit in.
A few years after that, I remarried.
And my Volvo started wearing out. The seats were cracking. There was a problem with the air conditioning. And one of the engine lights wouldn’t turn off no matter how much money I gave the dealership.
My husband decided that we should switch cars. He gave me his much newer SUV to drive. And started taking my wagon to work. He owns a restaurant. And he works in the kitchen.
The poor Volvo never had a chance. The beginning of the end. The car acquired a smell that one could only describe as being rancid: chicken, bleach and sweat. I felt bad for it but by then it was too late and there was no going back. I had already fallen in love with the height of the SUV. The benefits were obvious to someone who’s only 5’2″.
We got another car this past December. And something had to give. Too many cars to park in front of the house. The Volvo was the obvious one to let go. But it was a hard decision to make because it turned out that my husband loved it as much as I did. All almost 145,000 miles of it.
But he found the right buyer. A kid who wanted to fix it up for his own use. Who would treat it with love and care.
So for a few hundred bucks, the Volvo was gone. And over these last few weeks, I’ve missed seeing it parked out in front of our house. (Partly because it covered up the oil stain that had grown over the years from the leak that was never fixed.) And I’ve missed knowing when my husband was getting home because I could hear him half a block away, driving down the street.
But nothing lasts forever. Like our children, things get older and they leave us.
So goodbye my sweet Volvo. Thanks for 15 safe years. You will always hold a special place in my heart.