Spring moves into summer. Summer somehow turns to August. Life goes on.
It’s been nearly 3 months since I’ve completely been without a car, and to tell you the truth, it’s been easier than I thought in some ways, and only difficult in a few predicable ones.
First, the harder ways are those that I’ve been prepared for and have been dealing with for a while now, like big grocery store trips or leaving town. I think the most difficult has been the patience I have to have with public transportation, and mostly the buses. I’m a mile from work and a half mile to the nearest T station, as we call the train stops for the MBTA.
Most of the time I don’t mind walking around. I do a lot of it, and that was normal even when I still had a car. I think what annoys me now, though, is those times when I would have just taken my car to avoid hassle. The days when it was windy or raining heavily or I had an appointment after work, I would just drive to my office. I could avoid having to rely solely on the buses, and therefore had more patience when things didn’t go well. I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve been exhausted or it’s been raining, and the bus isn’t on schedule. It blows by me as I walk home figuring I’ve already missed it. And there’s always going to a bus you know should be there in 7 minutes only to realize it’s closing in on 15 and still no bus.
My mother is no longer able to drive, either. For her, it’s because of her eyes – she has something similar to Macular Degeneration and she no longer feels comfortable driving. She and my niece came to Boston earlier in the summer to visit the Museum of Science. In the last ten years a bus line between Boston and Hanover has gained popularity. It takes nearly the same time as if we were driving the whole way, and with gas prices, costs almost the same as well. The schedule is good, so on a weekend my boyfriend didn’t have free, I took the bus to NH. The route was familiar and I read as I used to when I was a kid and my parents drove me around. It was relaxing not driving, and although I probably would have preferred driving, it was a great surrogate.
The one benefit I didn’t expect came when I decided to move from my current apartment. I’ve lived in the same place as when I moved to the Boston area 7 years ago and I realized I need something new. Looking at my finances, and by moving my auto insurance and maintenance and registration/inspection into my housing/rent/utilities bracket, I realized I could afford something better and with only one roommate instead of two.
I wanted to stay in the area and near my office and obviously near the T and buses. One rule was the new place couldn’t be more than a 10-minute walk to a T stop, which means about half a mile. I also was hoping for something on a bus line that would get me close to work so I wouldn’t have to deal with walking far on bad weather days.
The past few years as a pedestrian have made me much more aware of how little drivers consider anyone outside their metal sphere. Puddles of salty, slushy ice water get sprayed up onto sidewalks without any apparent concern. I’ve seen numerous people sprayed and I’ve been close enough for a few droplets as well.
Last week I finally signed a lease and it included all the pieces I’d hoped for but doubted I’d find. I can get to a T-stop in 5 minutes, work in 5, a bus in 2, and a library, various cafes and food stores in under 10. Not having a car even made it easier to find a place because it meant that I didn’t have to negotiate parking or permits with my new landlord.
My only hassle now, of course, will be the actual move. I’m considering whether to hire a group of college movers to help me. My boyfriend has already warned me about his lack of interest in being responsible for anything larger than a car. I probably only need a cargo van, but I get the idea. I’m moving after Labor Day, so I have time to work that out.