Honda Odyssey

Ode to My Honda Odyssey

I’m Just Saying” is a column by Suburbs 101 Contributor, Alexis Gold. A funny and brutally honest take on what life is like for a working mom in New York City/turned unexpected stay-at-home suburban mom.

My minivan is starting to sound tired. She is my fifth child. I know her every sound and creak as well as my own. I put 5,000 miles on my Honda Odyssey last month, so maybe it’s warranted. I can hardly walk 5,000 steps these days. Probably because I am so out of shape from sitting in Old Faithful (OF) most of the time.

My kids have chosen activities that require year-round driving to remote places, hence the hefty mileage. My husband grew up in the middle of nowhere, so I feel like I am allowed to say that and not hurt anyone’s feelings. I grew up on the south shore of LawnGisland, so I can also say it with an awesome accent.

Honda Odyssey

In fairness, my daughter’s ice hockey-related concussion added ~1,000 miles when we swapped a flight to Colorado for a round-trip drive to North Carolina. So much for being on top of things and buying those season ski passes early. Mostly, I was looking forward to having a pilot fly me somewhere, anywhere. In theory, they’d have been able to scrounge one up. Instead, I listened to a lot of stand-up on Spotify as we tried to stay awake past midnight on our 10-hour drive.

Even if I back out the Hockey Gate miles, an average speed of 42 mph indicates I chauffeured some subset of my family for 95 HOURS driving to regularly scheduled programming in February. Assuming 12 waking hours per day, that is essentially eight full days of sitting in a sea of snacks. Some child sitting next to me, behind me, or near me; more than a week of listening to Taylor Swift, my yelling about something and Taylor Swift.

I have written a lot about OF. Many of you have messaged me afterward begging me to retire my tired transport. Mostly, those comments make me happy anyone has bothered to read anything I have written. That driver’s seat is my home away from home. Who’d have thought that amongst the ground-up Goldfish and old Starbucks straw wrappers, I’d hear my twins’ first words and my tween’s first worst words? I learned about first crushes and realized that I will no longer hear about any crushes. I have been crushed, and I have crashed (mostly in my driveway) more times than I would like to admit. Service announcement for anyone who parks at my house: I have finally removed the pillars at the bottom of my driveway.

Honda Odyssey

If you’ve never driven a work-horse of a car, it does offer some real perks. The sliding doors trump any luxury vehicle [insert option here]. They are, truly, heaven and more than makeup for the wind tunnel effect created in the front seat of a minivan. Plus, if you don’t want to hear anyone whining that you were 54 seconds late to Hebrew School pick up, turn up Taylor Swift a bit and the lack of wind seal between the front windshield and half-assed sound system will perfectly mask the sound of any high-pitched voice.

My minivan has become part of my identity. If I need to feel anonymous in our tiny town, I drive my actual adult car. I am pretty sure no one even realizes I own one. It’s become a sport for me – seeing how many miles I can put on this aging vehicle.

I feel like its lifeline is getting close. At 5,000 miles a month, it has to be. It’s why I am feeling a bit nostalgic since I am generally not a holder-on-er — especially of something I didn’t want in the first place. I looked at every other seven-seater option until my husband went to buy our minivan without me. I was probably in denial about the twins that were set to arrive.

Honda Odyssey

But, that was more than 10 years ago. And now, I am that car; with all its faults and dents. My kids are getting older. My daughter turns 13 this year. If she is lucky this car will stop moving just before she gets her permit. Otherwise, she will be the cool kid picking her friends up in a 2012 Honda Odyssey. If it makes her feel any better, my friends are often the cool kids getting picked up in a minivan. I’m guessing it won’t.

It’s sort of funny how attached I am to a minivan. But, I grew up in a family that drove our Gremlin until it wouldn’t drive another mile. I bought my first car in 2001 when I realized I didn’t want to move to San Francisco; I just wanted a car in Manhattan. I sold that car last year. I still feel pangs of longing when I see it on the road. That sedan was so old that it had a 20-gallon tank. It got 36 miles to the gallon and I think we filled the tank once a year. Talk about love.

I don’t think my minivan is going to last 20 years. The signs are there. So is the smell. My mother-in-law gave me a suggestion. In her kindest Vickster voice she said, “when you get rid of this car, I think you just take a grenade to it”. I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean it in the Bruno Mars way. Or in the Little House On the Prairie series finale scary blow-up-the-set equivalent. I like to think she meant, just rip off the band-aid; move on all at once. What I really think she meant, is no one on the planet should have to sit in it ever again — mostly her.

Honda Odyssey

But, I think she may be on to something. That car is where I went from having one baby to three giant car seats to five boosters (for carpools!) It came with us from NYC to the suburbs, when I left kicking and screaming, and mostly crying. It’s where I raced my son to the hospital making deals with a G-d I’m not always sure I believe in, but always do in those moments. It’s where I saw my kids curl up on long family drives to everywhere. It holds my daughter’s joy and sadness and tiredness after exhausting gymnastics meets and practices. It’s the car we drove in the pouring rain to see Taylor Swift while blasting the same.

A large part of my little life is wrapped up in that silly, small space. And while I am in the sprint phase of life, I can already see the subtle signs of change. My son walked from school, to his own haircut, and then to a friend’s last week. He is ten. My daughters went back and forth to the sledding hill with friends, and hot chocolate. I love that independence. I think I’m not quite ready for the grenade, but when I finally am, I might have to take the Vickster’s advice. I am not sure I can see it driving around town with all my memories in it. And at least one more Taylor Swift concert in a few weeks…maybe there is a G-d….

Check Out Other Essays by Alexis

Tetris for Life

Momvolution: Peloton Puke and Gloppy Cake

Here Comes The Son

About Alexis Gold

Alexis Gold holds a BS from Cornell University. She spent more than two decades on Wall Street, where she was a top-ranked analyst by Institutional Investor. While on the buy side, her creative writing was used to analyze companies, primarily in the retail space. Following the recent closing of her last fund, she decided to stay at home with her three small children. Her writing has been featured in Read650 and offers a funny and brutally honest take on what life is like for a working mom in NYC/turned unexpected stay-at-home suburban mom. 

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