Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Car-free October

It's been a while-ten days, to be exact. My schedule has prohibited my doing much writing. My caseload has doubled and my cases are all phone work on both coasts and in the middle. About half my cases have business phone numbers, so I call those people during business hours, and the other half are home numbers which I call in the evening or weekends. Zed has recently started back up to taking aikido on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we go to the park on Wednesdays and we're volunteering at the library every Friday morning this month. We ride the bus downtown and have to leave an hour (or more) earlier than we would if we were driving (and get home the same amount later). So for instance, on Tuesday and Thursday, aikido starts at 5:00 but we leave the house at 3:00, get downtown and walk to the library where we rest, drink water, eat a snack, read to Carmac and then we leave the library at 4:20, walk the mile to the dojo and Hammy picks us up at 6:15. Wednesday's even longer because we have 2 buses to ride and twice as much walking to do to get to the park. We leave at 10:30 and get to the park at 1:45 or so (Hammy picks us up at 5:30 or so). Since we're downtown, we eat lunch at a restaurant as a treat (there's great stir-fry place that's cheap and healthy which we all enjoy).

I'm not writing this as a complaint. I actually have really been enjoying the walking and taking the bus. I feel much more connected to my world on several levels.

Of course, in addition to working around 4 hours each day and riding the bus to our scheduled activities, there's the homeschooling work for both boys. I check their assignments with the boys in between phone calls for work. Zed is pretty self-motivated and mostly what Carmac wants is to be read to.

Finding time to be with Hammy has been a challenge. We have to actively make time to do things together. This past weekend Zed went camping with a friend (so we had room for another person in our car) and picked up a friend of Declan's and went to Oktoberfest. We listened to the German band and danced a polka and the "Chicken" dance. It was nice.
I feel more strongly that being car-free is part of my testimony, right now. Yes, it's a challenge and sometimes very frustrating and inconvenient, but it's also eye-opening and positive. Hammy has been talking about "when we get another car" and I'm not sure I want to do that. I'm crazy...I know. We're a family with 3 children who live in the suburbs in the South! People own cars. That's the only way to get anywhere. It's cruel to the kids to not have a second car. But right now it feels really right to not have a second car. It feels right to not be going into debt. It feels right to not be polluting the air nor using more fossil fuels. It feels right to be walking and waiting patiently at the bus stop. It feels right to have to schedule when we can get a haircut or go to Target rather than hopping in a car to run here or there.


Liz Opp said...

I recognize you're not asking for possible solutions on how to avoid a second car... Still, your current situation reminds me of my own temptation to do things by car rather than bike, bus, or walk simply because of convenience.

In my area, there is a car co-op, and I've also heard good things about ZipCar. It's a way to avoid paying for a new car--and insurance, maintenance, etc.--and still have access to a car when it's really needed.

Here's to a slower lifestyle, which has its own benefits!

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

Friendly Mama said...

Nashville is very backwards when it comes to transportation. I had some friends who moved from here to DC a few years ago. They had two children and lived without a car for a good while, using mass transit and being part of a car coop. I wish we had enough progressively minded folk to make it work but our mass transit does not currently support such a drastic lifestyle switch for most folks.
I am lucky that I am able to borrow my dad's truck when we have a great need to use a second car. I don't like to take advantage of having his truck, though, because it immediately becomes habit to use it to go everywhere instead of walking. Laziness pure and simple. At this point, the only way to keep myself from falling back on the good ole American way of always driving is to not have access to wheels.
And amen to a slower way of life.