Sunday, October 5, 2008

shrunk world

i finally went back and faced the mechanic yesterday. they hadn't called me back as promised with the "low" estimate for replacing the engine in my car, and i hadn't called them back since stalling at least until mom had time to mail me the title felt like a good idea. (i got this car by telling my dad how much i was willing to spend for a car and asking him to find me something relatively reliable. and it worked, at least for several years! so the car was mine, but the title was still in manchester.)

$2,500. nope. nicely, though, they're ok with my leaving the car there until i can figure out what to do with it. donate it? (i'm not sure my income bracket makes a tax write-off worthwhile, but the warm fuzzies would be nice...) sell it to a scrap dealer? put it up on craigslist and see if i can get anyone to offer anything for it? haul it up here and see if jesse's friend weaver agrees that the current engine is really, truly dead? (weaver, by the way, is helping jesse put a new radiator in his car. weaver gets kudos for being nice.)

i might look for a used car once i get health insurance and feel a little more comfortable cutting deep into savings. i'm really uncomfortable with debt... i like to keep my finances simple. income less than or equal to spending.

in the meantime, though, the bus.

the bus actually isn't so bad. i've got the commute to work figured out so that it's actually less of a pain than before... i get there early, i can sleep most of the way. evenings are less reliable, but again i can sleep or read or do whatever. mostly, it's just the extracurriculars that are difficult. wanting to stay out late to dance or go to a club meeting or whatever.

i'm having to ask for a lot of help. this week, i'm supposed to be DJing a dance on monday in virginia beach, teaching on wednesday in norfolk, and DJing again in williamsburg on thursday. that's three different rides.

on the one hand, i'd like to stick with public transit, even once i can afford to do otherwise again. it's one of those things where more people using it makes it possible to finance improvements to the system, and i feel like i should put my money where my mouth is. and i CAN largely find an adequate amount of personal freedom within the strictures of living by bus schedule.

on the other, i'm scared of turning into a mooche. i offer gas money, but still.

the world feels a lot more spread out when you're forced to go slower. on weekends, i've been using my feet or the bicycle for anything under about five miles. there's a lot in that range... still, simply going to walgreens, picking out a route that won't involve encountering heavy traffic, becomes a bit of an adventure.

my horizons are shrinking. i can't just casually run up to costco in newport news to grab a gallon of milk, or over to a friend's house 15 miles away to practice dance for an hour. taking objects along requires more consideration, too -- i find myself avoiding groceries that contain unnecessary amounts of water, because they'll make my backpack heavier. longer travel depends more heavily on whether anyone else is going that way or if i can justify buying a plane ticket.

but there's richness in getting to know what's around me. i went to the hampton museum of history for museum day last weekend. it's been 400 years since the english settled here, and there were kecoughtan indians before that. i found a WPA Guide to Virginia that includes information about what it was like here back in 1939... i like superimposing, imagining the past form of places as i wander around.

interacting more with strangers is kinda neat, too -- in a car, you're isolated from the world. the bus, if it gets stuck in traffic, people start trading stories. i'm getting to know the people who regularly travel the same directions i do, if not by name, at least by face... somehow, having a few people who smile at you in recognition every morning helps a lot, makes it feel safer, gives you someone to share the mirth with when something unusual does happen.

but anyway. i should get my bicycle out before the sun sets!


Will Holcomb said...

Have you noticed how free it feels to be behind the wheel of a car?

I never used to get the kick out of being able to go wherever I want that I do now that I only drive once a month or so.

I do know what you mean about being a mooch though. I would also say though that my carlessness has deepened some of my friendships.

There's something to really helping your friends out that seems to make people closer somehow. To know that you trust someone enough to really rely on them to do things that are important to you.

FYI, I'm in the process of giving my car to MPP through They serve a couple hundred charities, so you've got choices if you want to go the philanthropic route.

kait said...

actually, the only time i've gotten to drive since my car died was in a rental car on a business trip to roanoke... i was concerned about putting undue miles on it running around like a crazy person, so no full freedom experience, but yeah, i get the idea :)

i did carpool a lot before (dancers travel. dancers aren't rich. it happens), so i suppose hauling me around isn't entirely novel, but i'm going to have to learn more restraint against getting whiny when no one's going my way. the part that makes that tough for me is the effect on my ability to make commitments -- to say i can teach or DJ on a given night, it always has to come with the disclaimer "provided my ride doesn't fall through" now. because the people who AREN't responsible for stuff may or may not bow out if they're tired that evening... and where i can push myself to show up anyway, i can't push other people around because i said i'd do something.

i'm currently in a place where the few hundred bucks from selling the car would be a lot more meaningful than they would've been when my finances were in better order, but i'll certainly keep that link in mind, thanks.