Growing up with the parents I had was very interesting. Especially when it came to riding in their vehicles. My Mama’s car, no matter how new or old, ugly or pretty was always, always clean. It didn’t matter that she had three kids, two of which were born five years apart. Her car was never, ever dirty. Even on the rare occasion that the outside had a little dirt or salt on it, the inside was as clean as any new car on a dealer’s lot. Now, Daddy’s cars and trucks, not so much.
Daddy never worried about washing the outside of his vehicles, let alone ever cleaning up the inside. Not only was there always a thick layer of dust and dirt on the dashboard, the console, the doors and any other plastic surface of the interior, there was always trash. Everywhere. Trash in the door pockets, in the cup holders, and in the floorboards. Needless to say, Mama hated going anywhere in Daddy’s vehicles and she avoided it like the plague.
My sisters and I each have very different personalities and live very different lives, so naturally, our stance on vehicle cleanliness and detailing are just as different. My baby sister washes her car pretty regularly and she wipes the inside down occasionally to keep the dust at bay. However, she carries everything but the kitchen sink with her everywhere she goes. I’m talking clothes, shoes, jackets, pictures, clothes baskets, purses, a book bag, school books and notebooks, tampons, pizza boxes, dishes, and the list goes on and on. She used to have her retainer in one of the little compartments in one of her cars! God love her, she’s always prepared and I don’t ever worry about her freezing too death or going hungry if she were to ever break down or be stranded in a storm. And let me add that her car isn’t nasty, it’s just full… of everything.
My other sister, the middle child, now her vehicles remind me a lot of my Daddy’s. At least they used to. I haven’t seen the inside of her car in a really long time so I’m not entirely sure what her car looks like nowadays. Anyway, her car contained all the things that my baby sister’s car did, with the exception of the retainer, but there was much more trash in hers. There was always a various assortment of food containers, drive thru wrappers, and cups. I can remember getting in the back of her car once to go somewhere with her and Mama and the trash in the back floorboards was level with the seats. I really thought my poor Mama was gonna have a stroke when she saw it. She used to swear that rats were gonna carry my sister’s car off in the night.
I guess now that I think about it, my sisters are pretty similar in the way they keep their cars. They both have tendencies like Daddy. Now me, on the other hand, I took after my Mama. God help me.
I’ve always tried to keep my car clean. Both outside and in. I wore the paint on the hood off the first car I ever bought from washing and waxing it so much. Who knew two or three times a week was too much? After that heartbreaking lesson, I decided once a week was enough.
So, once a week for the next fifteen years, give or take a few months, I detailed whatever vehicle I happened to be driving, no matter how new or old, ugly or pretty. Even with two boys, I always kept my car looking pretty decent. Now, don’t get me wrong. I had no illusions of keeping my car immaculate like my Mama did. We ate and drank in my cars. We got in with muddy shoes and dirty clothes. We hauled fishing poles and tackle boxes around, as well as stray turtles, iguanas, goldfish, the dog and anything else that just happened to need a ride. Getting the car dirty never really bothered me because I knew it’d be cleaned back up again by that weekend.
Now, I’ve lived up here at the cabin for almost two years now. On a steep, windy, gravel covered, always dusty, sometimes muddy, mountain road. When I first moved up here, I still tried to keep my car washed and vacuumed out at least once a week. I’d roll thru the car wash and hit the floorboards with the vacuum and I’d swipe the dash with a little Armor All. It’d look real good till I got back to the house after driving up the mountain. It didn’t take long for me to give up on keeping the outside looking shiny and new. But, I still tried to keep the inside as clean as I could.
After being here a while, it didn’t take me long to veer from my once a week schedule. It didn’t take me long at all to figure out that when you live out in the woods, you’re not gonna be able to keep leaves and dirt outta your car for very long. So, I started shooting for once a month. Once a month, I’d vacuum everything and I’d clean the windows and wipe down the dash and all the other plastic surfaces of the interior. I’d hang a new air freshener and call it good enough.
Well, I’m ashamed to say, that today was the first time I’ve cleaned my car out in probably four or five months. My Mama would die if she knew this! There was enough dust on my dash for an artist to do a rendition of a Rembrandt painting. There were cobwebs in the corners of my doors! And I found where all the leaves of Fall went. Right in my floorboard, that’s where! It was awful. This just might’ve been the dirtiest my car has ever been.
Unlike my sisters and my Daddy, this bothered me. Bothered me to the point of making me hate to drive, or ride, in my own car. I’m thinking this kind of bother can only be experienced by people like myself who absolutely cannot relax in a room with a crooked rug on the floor, or a picture that’s hanging cock-eyed on the wall, or blinds that are messed up. I’ve told y’all before, there’s something seriously wrong with me. I just could not stand my car anymore.
So, today, I cleaned the inside of my little bright yellow car. Not perfectly, but good enough. And I must say, when I was finished and I climbed inside to move it back to its space in the driveway, I felt a calmness and a peace that only a clean car can bring.
A clean car is a happy car.
I still didn’t wash it, though. Perhaps next week.