It’s been 2 weeks now since I started regular car-free life. Most days I bike to the “good” bus stop, two miles away, then take the bus to work, bike in tow. And last Sunday morning, I biked the entire 12 or so miles to the office. And if I need to run an errand near home, I walk or bike. It’s been mostly an easy transition, although there have been a few hiccups.
A couple of days ago, for instance, I left for work early, rode to the grocery store next to my bus stop, then had to ride back home when I realized I didn’t bring any money. As a result I missed my bus. In a car, that would have been a minor annoyance. Without one, it was painful.
But there have been plusses too.
Last week Miles and I walked to the grocery store. A month ago, we would have drove the mile in our enclosed car (probably with the windows rolled up and air conditioning going), parked, walked straight into the store, shopped, walked straight back to the car, and drove back. We would have been on a specific mission, and would have spent most of the time with each other, mentally and physically insulated from the space and place we moved through.
Instead, our walk slowed us down, and helped us (forced us, perhaps) to remove that insulation. We saw the animals, insects, plants, and trees that are so familiar to our area, yet so easily overlooked. We were intimately aware of the topology of our neighborhood. All it takes is one long walk up a hill to make one aware of the valley-ness of home.
At the store, I gave a dollar to a man sitting on a bench outside. His friend asked me if I was scared of black people. I said no, and asked him if he was scared of white people. A fair question, I thought, on both counts. I bought a little bottle of milk for Miles, then we came out and sat down beside the man. As Miles drank his milk, we talked. He lived nearby, he said, but didn’t elaborate. His breath was heavy with alcohol. It was ten o’clock in the morning.
As we walked away, Miles said goodbye to the man. I wanted to do something, maybe ask him to ride the bus to the Healing Place. I made a mental note to pick up some shelter brochures, for my pack. Mostly, my thoughts were on my son. I was glad that Miles got to meet him, to sit beside him and see that he is a person, just as much as the grocery store bagger he says ‘adios’ to, or the neighbor of ours that drives the Jaguar and waves silently to him.
Take care, and see you on the road.
Resource of the Day
Rivendell Bicycles is not so much a manufacturer of quality bikes and accessories as it is a purveyor of a way of life. Their irregularly-published Rivendell Reader is a must read.