Two weeks ago I drove for the first time in about a year and a half. I had the department mini-van for the weekend because of a few activities I managed that required a lot of back-and-forth that just wouldn't have been feasible with a taxi. It was kinda bizarre. Like riding a bike, yes, but I could tell I was anxious about it. I've been on the roads of my neighborhood a thousand times, but they were much different when I had to worry about other cars or even stop lights. And the other drivers were predictably crazy. It was stressful, and it reminded me of one of the many reasons I continue to choose to be a pedestrian.
When I first lost my car in a head-on collision with a big construction truck I was freaking out about what I was going to do and how I was going to get around. For about a month my mind was going non-stop coming up with different options -- some terrifying, some attractive. I seriously considered moving to New York (even went so far as pricing the move), but in any of my previous plans I had been moving there from a place of strength -- a place I was very far from -- and I definitely didn't want to make such a big change prematurely. Ever since then I have been quietly and occasionally lamenting my fate, but it wasn't until that brief, hectic weekend behind the wheel and the reversion to public transportation thereafter that I began to find the beauty in my situation:
The first thing that happened when dealing with the aftermath of the wreck was that I was forced to slow down. Initially it was from physical pain, but when that wore off it was because of a reliance on other people or public transportation for rides. If I didn't have someone to take me home from work the bus ride often took more than two hours. It was very frustrating for someone used to getting from point A to B as quickly as possible.
The move from Raleigh to Durham cut my work commute down to 30 minutes, but even getting around Durham can take a significant chunk of time (which is often doubled on weekends because of poor bus service). My commute still begins and ends with a 5-10 minute walk (or the occasional sprint) to the bus stop. But I've noticed that I'm daydreaming again. During the bus rides I can read or listen to podcasts or sit and think. I've had more ideas for my stories even in the last six months than in the three years prior. When I drove, sure it was nice being able to load up on groceries and not have to carry them the quarter mile from bus stop to apartment, and yes, it was nice being able to go when I wanted instead of waiting on the bus schedule. But when it always seems like there's a lack of time and everyone's stressing out about getting everything done (like at work right now with the end of one year and the beginning of the next all at once), there's something very satisfying about adopting the lazy pace of the south now and then, going for a walk, forcing yourself to slow down, and enjoying the journey.