Writing

Day 4: Why Live Anywhere Else?

I write this post from the courtyard next to Uwajimaya Supermarket in Seattle’s International District.  A friend just wandered by my table in search of lunch; I didn’t know her office was in this neighborhood.  She’s the fourth person I’ve bumped into this week, which makes me think that I must be driving past people I know without realizing it every day.

It’s such a gorgeous fall day that I can hardly do anything besides sit here and think about how gorgeous it is.  It’s not just the weather – the sky so cloudless it looks like the blue has been painted on by expectant parents decorating their son’s nursery, the sun warming against the breeze which blows the dried leaves into gutters and edges of buildings.  It’s the whole scene – the fountain behind me, the people lunching at nearby tables, the man on the corner playing a wooden violin that looks like the kind I saw kids playing when I lived in Nepal.  It’s  so wonderfully urban here in this courtyard.  Maybe I’m appreciating it more because I arrived by bike instead of by car.  Probably if I’d driven I would’ve waited until the last minute to leave where I was, and wouldn’t be sitting here right now, an hour before I’m where I need to be.  So I’ll credit the carless commute for this lovely moment.

[Don’t worry.  I haven’t taken XTC.  Everyone in Seattle is talking like this these days.  The weather is THAT good.]

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I almost failed in my carless goal here on lowly Day 4.  The reason why I’m in the International District, a neighborhood I rarely frequent, is to visit my friend Scobie’s high school writing class.  This week his students are discussing an essay by a little-known author named me!  The class gets out an hour before I need to be standing on the corner by my house to receive Caleb as he gets off the school bus.  I couldn’t make the math work with the Metro bus schedule (for the #26, a bus that goes almost door to door) and the school bus schedule.  But late last night I thought of another option: the bike/bus combo.  If I take a different bus, it will get me close-ish to my house faster than the 26.  Then I can just zip down the hill on my bike and I’ll be home.  So this morning I biked to an appointment in Ravenna, then biked downtown.  I don’t like biking downtown, based on my one experience today.  I’m glad I don’t have to do that commute every day.  Props to Wiley and the many people I know who bike commute downtown.  That’s some stressful riding.

[later]

Soccer practice happens on Thursdays, also with Caleb’s friend Brayden.  I trade off Sarah; every other week one of us takes the boys to and from practice.  This was my week to drive.  I considered the bus, but we would have had to walk half a mile and take two buses to get to the practice field.  The return trip would have gotten us home around 7:00, an hour after practice ended and the time we usually finish dinner.  No way could I do that trip with two hungry boys.  Then Wiley’s Mom was here for the evening, and wanted to come to practice.  So we’d drive.  I’d drive.

It turns out that, if you don’t drive your hybrid for 3 days in a row, on the 4th day, the battery will be dead.  Count on this happening when you’re already late to practice.  So we took Sylvia’s car instead.

A schedule update: I’ve decided that my plan of not driving “Mondays-Thursdays in October, except for the week I’m in Hawaii, and oh, I might decide to go hiking one day too” is kind of lame.  So I’m amending: 30 days of car-free.  If I do it only Monday-Thursday, that would take me almost to Thanksgiving.  So the more I do it Friday-Sunday, the faster I’m finished.  Anytime I get into my car, or anyone in my family uses the car, doesn’t count as a “car-free day.”

Since I went through such contortions to be car-free for most of today, before I made this decision, I’m still counting this as Day 4.  We didn’t take MY car.  A technicality, I know.  I won’t do it again.  Will the three of you who read this blog forgive me?

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4 thoughts on “Day 4: Why Live Anywhere Else?

  1. As one of my very wise not very car-driving friends said to me, “It’s not about never using the car OR counting, really; it’s about making choices that change your commitment to the planet.” I find that kind of overall change mindset really really helpful, as one who opts to walk more often than drive to many places others drive! I love the unexpected discoveries, especially on a lovely day.

  2. Forgiven. Cheering you on. So hard to develop new patterns, see the beauty in the road less traveled. You’re inspiring me to do whatever I can. On the bike to the village for me, tomorrow. Maybe not the next day, but each time counts.

  3. iriswriter

    Forgiven. It’s not easy changing routines. You’ve inspired me to ride my bike to the village tomorrow. Might not on Wed., but every time counts. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  4. Jonathan Teller-Elsberg

    It’s like old fashioned Chicago politics in the comment section: vote early and often! 🙂

    Forgiveness is not really the issue. The blog is about your experience, yes? Your experience includes hurdles you don’t get over, yes? So be it. If you write it well, you’ve done your job.

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