August 9, 2010

The freedom of the wide open road

Due to my upbringing, I’m a strange combination of VERY independent and yet casually accepting of ‘charity’. Since my father ran a non-profit housing ministry we were given cars, clothing, money and food by strangers. This results in a sense that it’s ‘normal’ for people to give me material things. At the same time, my parents went out of their way to foster independence. When I was 5 years old, they flew me down to Florida to stay with my grandparents as long as I wanted (which lasted until Grandpa made me turn off the Mickey Mouse Club to come to dinner). Having an absent-minded father meant that I was usually the last one waiting to be picked up from soccer practice, or my friend’s house. So I learned the bus system and figured out ways to not ‘need’ anyone else.

For the four years we’ve lived in California, we’ve managed to share one car. It’s meant Jrex and I have had to closely align our schedules and constantly communicate to make this lifestyle work. Yet much of the ‘burden’ in that arrangement has been on me. I found jobs that worked with a train/bike commute. I’ve figured out climbing gyms, small groups, friends I can visit--all based on the train and my bike. I’ve asked for rides and been loaned cars. I think that all the shared rides have drawn Jrex and I closer together as well as providing bridges to getting to know other people more quickly. I’ve really enjoyed living a simpler life.


It’s also been limiting. We’ve had it in mind that if I ever get pregnant, we’d buy a beater for a couple thousand. While that hasn’t happened yet, we got an email from a friend who is selling her 11-year old Honda. Knowing her, we know it’s THE most meticulously cared for car EVER. We both felt really peaceful about jumping on the deal. Nothing is signed yet, but we’re all fairly certain about it.

Which has released a floodgate in my mind that I didn’t know was there. Now I can visit my college buddies who live up in San Francisco and over in the East Bay without waiting for a time when Jrex won’t need the car for a day. I can easily meet people for lunch, for coffee, and for outings. I could sign up for an agility class with the mutt and not have to fret that the car won’t be home in time to make it. No more coordinating rides, checking train schedules and waiting for late trains. I want to still ride my bike to work most days, but it opens up my evenings and weekends. No more dependency!

I’m sad that my ‘green’ aspirations are so easily trumped by convenience. It’s also showing me how strong that independent streak is and how much less comfortable I’ve become accepting charity as an adult.


Anonymous said...

I used to feel trapped in a weird way when I lived in NYC. Sure I could go pretty much anywhere at any hour, but I could never just go. There had to be a destination, you had to wait for the train/bus/cab, you had to get on the one going to the destination. I like to just go sometimes in no particular direction, car or foot are the only way you can do that. Driving is where I do my best thinking.

I might need a long drive tonight :)


OTR sister said...

This post made me realize I've had two cars and 6-months of housing given to me for free in my lifetime. And two of those were in Seattle so I can't even say it's an OTR thing.

That's kinda weird. And crazy generous.

Enjoy the giddy delights of independence!

Liz said...

11 years old? She's a fiesty 15 (actually in her 16th year on the road given the way model years are assigned)! Who needs to birth an infant when you can buy a teenager and get all the adventures she promises? May you both enjoy your adventures. :-)

OTRgirl said...

See? It's a sign that I'm really bad at math. I've been saying she's a '95 and yet somehow that adds up to 11? This is why Jrex is better at our finances than I am!