Friday, July 21, 2006

Day 20: I didn’t run away, but maybe should have.

Our day trip to Springfield was a failure, especially because it took a day and a half.

Nothing seemed to go right for our family adventure. This was true in part because my regular bus driver in Normal implied we had single handedly put her bus behind schedule, in part because I have enough information for a whole chapter of my future book, “Why I don’t ride Amtrak,” and in part because we arrived home a full 17 hours later than intended.

Did I mention I have two young children and it was very, very hot outside.

In truth, I’m feeling a little like my project is failing. I had hoped life without a car would have been something that proved fulfilling and feasible.

I had at least hoped my husband and I --— eating pizza and drinking cocktails on the bathroom floor of our hotel room while our sleeping children occupied the room with the TV — wouldn’t have joked about buying a Hummer when we got home.

Not the “small” one either. We want that original monster, the one that eats gas parked in the driveway.

“What are you going to fill it with,” I asked my husband.

“Cold air,” he said


At 1:12 PM, Blogger lg2823 said...

I'm sorry you're feeling so "blah" about your project. It is a noble endeavor, but perhaps too grand an experiment. A more realistic experiment would have been trying to live with just 1 car. You could have taken the family car on your vacation! And shared the car with your husband during the week, and prioritized use of the car for big errands like groceries.

Doing completely without a car, as you have found, is not within reach for most folks (who often can't afford to live close to the core of their cities). But if we could all get rid of a car, that would help. We need some pioneering families to prove that 1 car can work, even with 2 jobs and 2 kids!

Good luck with the remaining 9 days of your car-free July. I admire you for even trying this with 2 kids! You are brave.

At 5:05 AM, Blogger iwanagain said...

Thanks for cheering me on. My husband and I went to see "An Inconvenient Truth" last night and I definitely feel back on track.

Actually, this project did teach me that one car is not only doable, but perhaps preferred, especially in reducing costs.

At 9:19 AM, Blogger Eric said...

I just read through the whole month's postings (so far) in one go; now I'm sad that things aren't going so well for you. The optimism and good points you listed in your earlier entries (having chances to play with the kids on the bus, being able to read and get some small work items done while commuting) have completely vanished from your entries.

But have they completely vanished from your life? I hope not.

I think it's a major life change to give up a car. I often compare it to the choice to have children--the minutiae of day-to-day life with children make it seem like a horrible ordeal to outsiders, but there are innumerable paybacks that aren't necessarily easy to articulate.

And like having children, there are "tricks of the trade" that one generally only finds by diving into the experience. I don't have kids, so diapers are daunting things to me. But I've lived without a car for more than eight years now, so I know it's always a good idea to have a book on hand, and to take a backpack with me everywhere I go to make it easier to carry things.

Ultimately, I think mentorship is the best potential doorway into a smooth car-free transition. Just like how it's great to have grandparents and other experienced parents around when discovering life with a first child, it helps a lot to know other people living car-free in your community who can advise you on which walking shoes have the most durable and comfortable soles, and other little tips that one comes by along the way.

The thing is, now you're that person in your community. If you can demonstrate that living with one fewer car is doable, and has advantages to it, you might convince others, and be able to help them through that same process of discovery.

So I wish you all the best, and I hope you're still getting some happy moments from the experience.


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