It is true that I own a 1970 Volkswagen van. This fact might be unbelievable because it has been stashed in a friend’s shed in Limon, Colorado for the three (plus) years that I have been bouncing in and out of the U.S. I don’t have the heart to sell the thing, and now I’ve paid more to store it (over $1500) than I paid for it to begin with ($1000, cash).
But when it comes to Volkswagen vans, all costs are relative. During the first summer that I owned it, for example, the engine blew up while I was driving across the Mojave Desert. The clutch went out on a highway near Santa Monica. The starter died. The front shocks went kaput. And the electrical system failed on my way to Pasadena, leaving me stranded…at night…on a highway…without a shoulder (I called 911 on that one). In a single summer, I burned—literally—thousands of dollars on repairs. I could also mention the panic, the towings, the begging of alternate transportation from friends, and the sweaty waits in Volkswagen repair shops…but I’ll spare you the details. It’s an adventure, right? And so it’s priceless.
Anyhow, I grew attached to the van despite its complete lack of mechanical integrity. I’ve replaced the cracked windshield and had it restored to its original shiny red. I’ve sewn new curtains, reupholstered the seats, sanded and repainted the bumpers and rims. I dream of living out of this vehicle when I return to the U.S., a fact that I’m sure worries my family and some of my friends.
Over the weekend, I drove out to Limon to visit the van and to see if I could get it going. I hadn’t seen it in over three years, and Wade—mechanical friend and owner of said shed—had told me that there was “no way” it would start. The front right tire was flat, but after we pushed it out of the shed, I turned the key, and it fired right up. Let me repeat that. After three years of sitting in a shed, the van fired right up. Unbelievable. Seriously. Miraculous. And so I keep it, waiting in the shed. And so I still dream of the day that I can return to the shed and drive it away with me, out on the open road. But for now, it waits. And I wait, too.