Months now Car-free

I didn’t anticipate the way things would change with my moving. My life became easier – in part because leaving one overbearing roommate to move in with a friendly, organized, and easy-going roommate has made a big difference. My new apartment has been great.

In the months that have passed, my lack of wheels has been more good than bad. Looking at my break with the car has become like any relationship. A memory of times well spent, an occasional moment of sadness, but for me, I don’t think of my car as much as I did for the first few months.

Winter is, perhaps, one of the best seasons to go without a car in New England. Watching people digging out vehicles, whether they need to drive them just then or not, during and after snowstorms, is enough to make me feel relief as I sit inside where it’s warm.

snowed-carI look at the cars slowly inching down Mass Ave in the icy weather; the streaks of salt on the cars that won’t wash off until it rains; the number of cars that people believe they need to “warm up” even though with modern cars, they’re only wasting fuel – and if they’re hoping the interior will get toasty, they’d be better off getting inside and driving.

I have found new ways of getting around – finding ways to walk to a place, or checking out somewhere closer than where I’d been going before. For example, I no longer drive to a grocery store that was large, often busy, where parking was annoying and getting back on the highway was ridiculous. In the meantime, I’ve found several other options for grocery stores, one being a co-op, that I can easily get to by bus and sometimes hit on my way back from something else so I’m not going out of my way, either.

My shoes have taken a beating. This I was expecting. But a pair of well-made shoes from a department store costs between one to three tanks of gas and will last for about a year. I can get two or three pairs, wear them interchangeably and still be better off. I have come to hate cute shoes, though, that only have ‘cute’ going for them. It’s a lot harder to forgive a pair of shoes when it only takes a mile of walking to realize you’re holding your body in an odd position because something is now really too tight, too pinchy, too wrong, for which your entire body will hurt later. This problem can be hard to assess when doing a few short strides in a shoe store. I still have to get better at assessing the toes and width. Pointy shoes are gone. I dislike clogs and moccasins, but sometimes it’s like them and loafers are all that’s left. Sneakers, of course. But a lot of shoes around here seem to be made for standing or sitting. Maybe it’s always been that way – bad shoes, that is. My grandmother had terrible foot problems in her old age from trying to wear poorly fitted/shaped shoes when she was younger.

Carrying all my purchases is good for my wallet, too. It has made me question whether I really need to buy something or not. Thank goodness for reusable grocery bags with handles long enough to go over the shoulder. Winter has been noticeable since I do get all my stuff in one stop. In the summer there’s a local farmer’s market where I get all my produce once a week, so my summer runs to the grocery store are for the boxed/canned/packaged/bulk goods. The winter, consequently, means sometimes going a few times more often or reconsidering what I’m willing to carry.  The only thing I can think of that’s a bit tricky is if we want to get a bulk set of something like toilet paper, but since you can get them in packs of four, it’s not impossible to pay the extra twenty cents, or whatever it is, and get more sooner. And for some clothes and some housewares it’s back to catalog shopping – like Sears but online now.