I have been extremely fortunate that throughout my entire life I have always had a wheelchair accessible van that has given me the means to get out and experience the world. Having my own wheelchair accessible vehicle has allowed me to do many of amazing things during my life, like see Niagara Falls, go to Disneyworld, and visit the JFK museum in Dallas. Having my own mode of transportation also allowed me to achieve my lifelong dream of going off to college and creating a successful, independent life for myself. You would think that these big, milestone events in my life would be what I remember and appreciate most about my van, but as great as these major life events are, and as grateful as I am to have experienced them, they are not what first come to mind when I reminisce about my vehicle. What I am most grateful for are the moments I got to share with my family thanks to the fact that we could all travel and experience things together. While the vast majority of these moments from my life may seem boring and trivial to anyone else, the emotions and feelings I attach to them are something I value much more than any theme park or landmark.
One of the memories that always comes to mind when I think about my van are the evenings my family and I spent at the drive-in. I grew up in a really small town in Northern Indiana (there were more cows than people), and if you wanted to do pretty much anything fun you had to drive at least 30 minutes. One of few modes of entertainment that was close by, however, was an old-fashioned, drive-in movie theater. It was just like the scene from the movie, “Grease.” There were the cartoons with dancing popcorn, candy, and nachos before the show, the old school speakers that hooked onto the window of your car, and it was a double feature with a family friendly flick first followed by a more adult picture second once the kids were asleep (or pretending to sleep like I did). You could also bring in your own food and beverages in a cooler, which made it an inexpensive form of entertainment. It was a great time that we enjoyed often, since it was a nearby, fun, and affordable way for our family of five to spend an entire evening.
As much as I enjoy thinking about the drive-in itself and its old time flavor of fun, what I like remembering even more are the little moments I shared with my parents and my brother and sister on these family outings. These are the memories I really cherish. The way my brother and I would fight over who got the last Twizzler. The time my sister and I faked being asleep after the first film, and watched the movie, “Congo,” even though we were way too young (and how I had nightmares afterwards). The way that even though we had packed a cooler with more than enough food, my parents would always let us get candy from the concession stand. The way my siblings and I would always argue about how we would be awake through both shows, but we would all three end up asleep together in the back of the van. These every day, commonplace moments from my childhood, which would seem boring and insignificant to anyone else, are something I would not trade for anything, and they were only possible because I had a vehicle that let me out into the world.
My van, which has been aptly named the “Drotarcade,” has been my lone mode of transportation that has taken me many amazing places. It has given me the opportunity to live a totally independent, fulfilling life as an adult and shown me national monuments that broadened my horizons as a child. These life milestones, which were a vital part of my life and deserve being remembered fondly, should not however overshadow the more mundane, but special, moments you experienced in between these major events. It’s the times you spent arguing in the backseat on road trips and the time you played “20 Questions” for five straight hours on your family vacation to Florida that will make you smile every time you think about them 20 years down the road. Whether it is reminiscing about dancing concessions or something else entirely, don’t let the little moments with the ones you love be forgotten because the “major, important events” throughout your life are more flashy. As great as these milestones may be, it is the little things that only you and a select few know about that you will value most, and the people in them that you will want to remember them with.