My ride is a 1999 gray Toyota Sienna. I cannot pimp it. I can, however, transport my two daughters Annie, 14 and Emmy, 11 to school, to the grocery store, to Target (my favorite store), to play dates, birthday parties, soccer practices, soccer games, soccer circuit training. Have I mentioned soccer? It’s a traveling locker room that demands the industrial car wash vacuum once a week and stays clean for exactly thirteen seconds. There are always extra socks, water bottles, blankets, fold up chairs and canvas bags for shopping and schlepping. There’s a one-year old yogurt-covered Balance Bar that Annie’s teammate Emma left in the car a year ago and I can’t seem to throw out. There’s also an “emergency kit” with jumper cables, hats and gloves and I don’t know what else because I haven’t checked it in the last three years. I love the mini van because it fits me. I’m a Pittsburgh-bred girl relocated to Colorado where I moved because I love the open sky, the mountains, and a town where women wear comfortable shoes. I am a 49 year-old divorced mom and the key to my van and me are the same: maintenance. Some things, however, can’t be fixed. The left back door that sticks, and the short-circuited, door-is-open light that goes on and off at will (actually that can probably be fixed but I can definitely not afford it). As for me, hair coloring is mandatory, Neutrogena products are my retirement fund, I can’t see too well at night and I’m always forgetting where I parked at Costco. At any given time you can find last week’s art project, the rented violin, field trip forms, old mail and a magazine I want to read in case I get stuck somewhere (big guess: a soccer field) waiting for children.
I support my daughters by writing magazine articles, mostly about celebrities. I had to interview Scarlett Johansson while I was in the midst of a raging bladder infection. I talked to Chris Rock about the importance of getting laid. I ate vegan food with Gwyneth Paltrow and drank margaritas with Jennifer Aniston. I have inspected all of Carmelo Anthony’s tatoos. Jennifer Garner sent me her biscotti recipe, so I baked a pie (my specialty) for her when she was in town. My daughter Emmy didn’t see it and stepped right into the center of it with her Croc. Perfect Croc footprint mid raspberry rhubarb pie.
My job gives me the flexibility to be with the Croc children and go on the water treatment field trip (most boring of all time) and help hang art installations with Mrs. Lllerandi, the amazing middle school art teacher. My job does not give me security or health insurance or life insurance or a 401 K. Every time I think I’m close to saving a little chunk, it’s my turn to pay the orthodontist bill. I have a boyfriend who lives in Alabama. My sixth grader, who also has a boyfriend—adorable guy named Jack—asked me “Isn’t it fun to say the word ‘boyfriend,’mom?” And after about twenty seconds of thought, I say “Yes, yes it is.” So in between getting work and trying to get paid for the work and driving to school and soccer and packing lunches and then unpacking them because everything tastes better at home, I try to have a relationship. We talk every night. This conversation coincides, to the second, with the time when my daughters decide to maul each other, scream, or need me for some immediate crisis. Neither of them have any familiarity with volume control. So then I scream, “STOP SCREAMING.” And I close my door. Life is messy and so is the minivan. Welcome to my world.