The Red Wagon
We sat around a campfire iterating our earliest memory, and I was prepared. Overalls with pockets: I love pockets, and I need them, just like I did when I was a child. I wore pants because they had pockets; no dresses for me unless they had pockets for my jacks and ball - and a nickel. As a teacher, I needed pockets. As a hiker and traveler, I need pockets for various items – and rocks.
Pockets and a red wagon, I say to the people gathered at the campfire.
A red wagon: Evening and chilly. There is traffic. I am holding my father's hand and pulling a red wagon – which has been just purchased from Sears, and has been assembled by my father right there in the store. I am very happy.
In 1967, I bought my first new car, a '67 Opel wagon. Red, of course. It accommodated me for 20 years, taking six kids camping the whole of one summer. (Stu said that we looked like a Mexican bus.) It made a rattling sound all its life, and once in awhile, I hear a similar sound and am reminded of the '67 Opel – with joy and a sense of loss.
In the early 90s, Stu and I bought a Toyota T-100 truck with a camper shell. I wanted a red truck, of course, but there were none available. I settled for a white truck, but Stu surprised me with a red one. It was a lot of trouble for him, but worth it as far as he was concerned. Stu and I used the camper from that time on; our last camping trip was to Sonoma State beach, three months before he died. He wanted to go, and we enjoyed our time together in the comfort, coziness, and intimacy of our “red wagon.”
In that camper, we traveled all over California and to parts of the west, including Moab, Utah once a year. It had a comfortable bed, room to sit, space for storage, and gadgetry. It was airy and bright, very pleasant.
Periodically, I dream of the red wagon. It is bright and beautiful – and useful. I feel safe even though the environment may be threatening: dark, cold, noisy. I can go anywhere, carrying all I need – and holding a loving hand.