The thing about living here, in this
small town for which I must come up with a name (let’s call it
Adventure City. No? Okay. I’ll think of something, I’m sure) is that
not having a car is a bad thing. There are things within walking
distance, such as a corner, and then another corner, and then another
corner, and there are things that are not in walking distance, such
as everything else. But, they tell me, there are buses! Buses that
will take you anywhere you want to go! I’ve been here, what, a week?
And so far, the buses I have seen is actually bus, singular. And it
didn’t look very safe. It was powered by pedals and drug by a horse
and was making mysterious clanking noises and I just don’t think me
and the bus of my new town are meant to be, is all I’m saying.
Okay, there are things within walking
distance. There’s a convenience store three blocks away, and Rite
Aid. Four blocks the other way, there’s the main drag and that’s got
my gym and my bank and coffee shops and restaurants and it’s
practically civilized out there! But it’s a hike. These are long
blocks! They are not reasonably sized. I shake my fist at the city
planners. And I have to tell you that I actually wouldn’t mind the
walk. If people shoveled their driveways and maybe put some salt down
and maybe the skies didn’t open up every third hour and rain down
white death. Snow! Ice! It puts a damper on walking. Especially when
you are clumsy like me. I will not tell you how many times I have
fallen down already.
Even if I were cross-country skiing
around town wearing a parka and a tauntaun carcass, there are things
that I cannot do at a cute little coffee shop or a very nice place to
get lunch, like buy low-fat milk or decent cheese or get a key made
or mail a package or buy a book or shower curtain rings. So I’m going
to get a vehicle. A ride, as it were. Probably I will totally pimp
it. First, I have to get the freelance check that is supposed to be
in the mail, along with all the other checks in the world, having
special check adventures and doing wild check things, the way checks
in the mail always do.
In the meantime, it is me, my feet, and
my sense of pioneering spirit, or swallowing my very dumb pride
(because they don’t begrudge me! But I still feel bad!) and asking
the boys—E. and his most excellent roommates—to give me a ride.
They all have cars, and sometimes they can even get themselves and
their bald tires out of the snow drifts and down the street, and then
they say watch this! and do a Utah turn, which is taking a corner at
full speed, yanking the wheel around and hitting the emergency brake.
Sometimes, I crap myself.
But that’s not the only reason I’m
reluctant to ask for rides. I mean, it’s part of it. But also, we
talked about it before I moved out here: "We can drive you anywhere,"
E. said! "You don’t need a car!" "But I don’t know…" I trailed off. It
makes me feel guilty, to drag them around to do my errands. And it
makes me feel very the opposite of independent and resourceful and
adventurous, when I have to sit in my house and wait for everyone to
get off work so that I can go get toilet paper or a stick of gum or
some crack cocaine. And sometimes, you need things like tampons (or
crack cocaine) rather urgently, and then what are you supposed to do?
You’re supposed to haul your sick ass
off the futon, strip out of your flamingo pajamas, strap on your
boots and slap on your hat and wade out into the blizzard, is what
you’re supposed to do. It is emblematic and important, this
metaphor—it’s your own two feet! You’re supposed to pull yourself
up by your bootstraps and be brave and strong and tough, and it
doesn’t hurt at all if you’re procrastinating on either unpacking or
finishing up another hundred pages of freelance work and you’re so
high on non-drowsy cough medicine that you’ve come all the way around
the other side to walking unconsciousness, because by god, you’re
going to go out there, and you’re going to get yourself what you
I don’t even remember what I needed,
now. Cough drops, tissues, a Hershey’s kiss. Something propelled me
out the door, and down the street, all three blocks to the
convenience store, hauling ass over drifts and scaling cliffs and
skidding down precipices. I made it to the convenience store! I felt
so good, out and about and running errands. I marched back down the
street and I didn’t fall down or even slip, and it was lovely, to get
out of the house during the day, to have pants on and a hat and
gloves and a scarf and boots, and to be a sister doing it for
herself, with an armful of things and a heart full of courage and
derring-do. And then I got home and crawled under my afghan and fell
asleep for two and a half hours. Which I’m sure would have happened
even with a car, but I hope I don’t have to find out.