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Yes, I have sand in the car. So what?

Liz Lerner
Liz Lerner

If you live on Cape Cod, you likely have sand in your car. And if you live on Cape Cod and don’t have sand in your car, I might question if you are really living life to its fullest.

I came to this deep philosophical conclusion as I was doing my quarterly vacuum of the car. Actually, that’s a lie. I only vacuum the car seasonally, pretty much based on two seasons: people season at the beach and dog season at the beach. People season runs from about mid-May to just after Labor Day. Dog season is the rest of the year, if that gives you any indication of how often I really vacuum.

As far I’m concerned, getting all the sand out of the car is a Sisyphean task, in other words, never-ending. Let’s say I vacuum the car on Friday and then I take the dog to the beach on Saturday. I just have to do it all over again. I mean, really, what’s the point? Also, thanks to the dog, my rear seats are covered with more drool than a preschooler’s sleeve. But I digress….

Sometime in mid-fall and then again in mid-spring, I realize the family is coming to visit, but that people-at-the-beach season has rolled into dog-at-the-beach season or vice-versa and I have not yet gotten around to vacuuming. That’s when I head off to the car wash because if they see that the car has not been rid of sand since they left, they will start checking out assisted living places.

It seems everyone but me has some kind of system for keeping sand out of the car – towels, brushes, something involving talcum powder where you dust over the sandy areas of your feet, supposedly making it easier to remove. But realistically you come off the beach and someone’s hungry and someone’s tired and someone’s crying and just as you are brushing the sand off one kid’s foot, the other one has already hopped into the car, and suddenly the backseat has as much sand as a DPW shed.

Sometimes I don’t mind cleaning the car out after summer. I find flotsam and jetsam that reminds me of the good times – a stray sneaker sock, an ice cream wrapper, a mini-golf souvenir, or an excellent smooth rock. I hesitate for a moment, wondering if I should save these treasures, but I know in my heart the owners have moved on. The dog sand is less appealing. It sometimes mixes with the aforementioned drool and morphs into a type of homemade cement.

I’m sure some of you are appalled that I can tolerate such disorder – and it’s true that my ability to suffer chaos is pretty high. But mostly there are just things I’d rather do than vacuum the stupid sand out of the car.

I once went to trade in a 10-year-old car that I had cleaned and vacuumed in hopes of getting a better deal. But the salesman took one look in the back, and in the tone of a disapproving dad on prom night, announced to the dealership that I had “destroyed” the interior of the car.

I let it bother me for about 10 seconds and then I remembered all that had happened in that car such as trips to the beach with dogs and kids and damp towels and sandy feet and wet beach buckets and smelly shells and faded tennis balls, and I thought this car is has carried a lot of love -- a perfect example that life is for the living, not for the vacuuming.