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Running on empty

I had my car towed away yesterday to the mechanic. Utter disuse has rendered it inoperative, and I need to get it repaired because, after several months of internal struggle, I'm finally ready to sell it.



I bought my first car at 35. It was a used 1988 Honda Civic and I drove it for twelve years before giving it to my sister. She sold it just the other day with 175,000 miles on it. That was one hell of a little car.

My second, and probably last, car was a black Mercedes C230, about twice the weight and half the gas mileage of the Honda. A grown-up vehicle with leather seats and a moon roof. It felt really good to pull up in a Mercedes, wherever I was pulling up to. I liked it a lot.

After AAA towed it away last night, I went into a bit of a state: I watched three hours of television and I might have overeaten just a tad. It took me a while to acknowledge how unsettled I was at the impending change.

Car ownership is absolutely fundamental in American life. When I finally became a car-owner, I moved from an outsider's position into the mainstream. Of course, the American mainstream isn't the best fit for me, but it was not without its comforts. Why would I give it up if I don't have to?

It's not the money: a paid-for car that you don't drive doesn't cost much. It's not the environment, though I guess I get a couple of points for riding a bike.

It's really just that driving...bothers me. I don't enjoy it. It's fast and scary and dangerous and annoying, and it's only useful for taking me places I don't want to go. For almost two years now, given a daily choice between driving and not-driving, I've chosen not to drive almost every time.

But won't I feel constricted when effectively confined to a five-mile radius from my house?

I haven't so far. Inside that radius lies everything I need and almost all of what I want (including the airport). But...but! What if I want to go to the beach on the spur of the moment? What if I need stuff at Home Depot or IKEA? What if I want to visit someone in the distant 'burbs? What if I have visitors and want to take them out of town?

Well, that's what car rental, taxis and delivery trucks are for, I guess.

And besides, it's a new adventure. I can't help thinking that something wonderful will come into my life to fill the space formerly occupied by Car.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comments. | Comment at Dreamwidth.

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