Most of the time, I’m happy with my car-free existence. Or, to put a finer point on it: the existence in which I don’t own a car myself, but my live-in boyfriend does so we get to use it for dates and I can drive it sometimes when he is not using it. I like that not having a car means that I have two ways to get to work: taking the Max or biking. I like that when I have to go somewhere and use public transportation, I can read. “How do you read so much?” people ask me. The answers: I’m a fast reader, work 32 hours per week and am not very social. But one of the keys is that when I’m on the Max or the bus, I’ve always got my nose in the newspaper or a book.
I love that the employer-paid-for Trimet pass means I pay very little to haul myself around town. I love that sometimes when taking public transportation, I can just change my mind and walk. I love the “public-ness” of public transportation–the smells (though sometimes, not pleasant, always a great reminder of the “us” of “us”) the people watching, the stories that come from it. I love peeking at what people are reading, eyeing their shopping bags and wondering what their story is.
When I bike or walk, I love that I get to where I’m going under my own power and have time to memorize poems and sing some songs. I love that I watch the scenery, that I am “in” the weather. I love that people say, “You biked here?!?” “You walked here?!?!” as if that was some miraculous feat only accomplished by lesser gods.
And some days I don’t love my car-free existence at all. Today, for instance, when I just want to see a movie at a theater I know will take me two buses and a good twenty minutes of waiting in the cold rain to get there I wish more than anything I could just jump in my non-existent car and drive there in only twenty minutes, with no stops for other people to climb on and off. When the bus is hot and steamy from so much vapor coming off of people I can’t see out the windows I always feel a very special kind of car sick that I don’t enjoy much. I wish that when I am done watching the movie I could just jump back in my car, set the radio to my own station and zip home, avoiding just missing one bus meaning waiting the full 16 minutes until the next one and then just missing the connection which means huddling in the corner of the bus shelter and holding my book just so so the rain doesn’t come down on it.
Most days I like my car free existence. But today I would love to have a car of my own.