Many know the Toyota Sienna story….
….for those who do not, I’ll begin with a very abridged re-cap and get on to the point of this post.
We bought our used (new to us) mini van one week before our cross-country move to New Jersey. Brimming with two adults, two babies, two dogs, two suit cases, two pack-n-plays, two dog crates and 47 Plum Organics fruit and veggie bags, we waved a final goodbye to our California home and headed for the highway.
We had not yet reached the 405 before a bag of spinach, peas and pear purèe squirted like a laser from the back seat. It was at that moment I realized, for the sake of my sanity, I would have to temporarily tuck my obsessive need for order and cleanliness inside the glove compartment for the duration of this trip.
With a sigh, and a vow to devote an entire weekend to a detailed vacuuming and scrubbing once we arrived at our new home, I shut her inside the compartment with a click.
But, as the story goes, our engine nearly exploded 788 miles from Los Angles, on Day Three of our trip, and we continued the rest of the way in a rented Chrysler Town and Country. I learned to find liberation in stretching atrophied muscles of slop, as the obsessive hemisphere of my brain was still locked inside a glove compartment in Albuquerque, NM.
The Sienna was shipped to us in New Jersey, 30 days after our arrival, but before I had the chance to roll up my sleeves and dig my elbows into the mass destruction that occurred during those first three days, the transmission fell out onto the New Jersey Turnpike.
Once back in our possession, two weeks later, I had little desire to even look at the vehicle, let alone offer it any modicum of TLC.
Winter turned to Spring and Spring to Summer, as less and less of the floor was visible through the overlay of crushed goldfish, graham crackers and other things unidentifiable due to the scientific changes in composition during the natural decaying process. And every time we loaded the kids in the car to run an errand, a guttural groan would escape from me.
As much as I tried to keep the state of our mini van a dirty little secret, people would catch sight of our disturbing transport all too often. Each time, these people, newly made East Coast friends who are unaware that I am NOT a gigantic slob, witnessed the science project growing in my car, a little part of me (the part that upon returning from the grocery store, with the intense pressure of an over-flowing bladder, would rather wet her pants than use the bathroom before all the groceries are in their proper place) would die.
Today, after six months and three days (minus the 44 it was in the repair shop) of driving a vehicle straight out of an episode of Horders , I decided it was time to unlock the glove compartment and let a kicking, screaming and gasping Neaty Mc Neaterton free!
Man, was she pissed!
“How could you have let this happen?”
She asked, with utter disdain, while surveying the floor with disgust.
My head hanging in shame, we agreed that placing blame and making excuses would only distract from the monumental task at hand. And so we dove in; my Husband, my two kids and my two estranged selves joined together to restore balance, harmony and order within our family vehicle.
While I feel it was beneficial to have allowed this disgusting little situation to happen, as I now understand the importance of lowering the standards when it comes to car trips (especially long ones), I can, with complete conviction, say that six months is unacceptable. There really is no need for such prolonged disarray and neglect. Kids or no kids.
Currently, a little waste basket sits under the stereo for used napkins, ripped papers, and toys I find annoyingly disheveling, a dust buster is charged and ready inside the front door of the house for frequent clean-ups, and I sit in the front seat with shoulders back and chest up as we set off on northeastern roads.
Now, when friends ask if I need assistance with getting my children in the car after play-dates, I proudly accept their offer.
The BEST part?
It was more family fun than we have had in weeks!
Those of you who have witnessed the manner in which we allow my daughter to eat her meals are most likely thinking,
“Neat Freak, my a#*!”
It must be noted that the same organizational and cleanliness obsessed facet of my ego spends all mealtimes locked in the liquor cabinet.
She’s happy there.
And totally wasted.