The daily commute

A lot of questions came up when we decided to move across the country: What neighborhood would suit us? How will we find an apartment? Where will we live in the meantime? What if all our stuff doesn’t fit in our new place? But one thing was certain: we were only going to have one car, and Sean was going to drive it.

Street parking is hard to come by in Boston. It’s a challenge to find one parking spot, let alone two. Plus it comes with a fair number of perils: drivers who don’t give a darn what they bump into, overzealous meter maids, and blizzards that bury vehicles under piles of snow. We park the car in a garage about a quarter mile from our apartment to avoid all that, and it costs a pretty penny. Garage parking for two cars would be ridikilus.

Sean got a job before we moved, and his office is some miles outside of Boston and not really on any public transit routes. Meanwhile, I was working from home and have never been especially fond of driving anyway. So Sean got the car by default, and it was up to me to find a job I could get to by subway or bus.

I cast a small net when I was searching so I wouldn’t snag any leads outside of the commutable area. (I actually ended up having to turn down a promising opportunity when I realized — after a great phone interview — that it was waaaaay too far outside the city to work for me.)

The job I wound up getting is in the perfect location. It’s less than two miles from my apartment and easily accessible via the T. When I first started, I was taking the subway to and from the office every day. But after a couple of weeks, I realized that I actually preferred walking home — fewer people to contend with, no waiting for the train to arrive, and a $2.10 fare saved every, single day. Plus, I figured the nice walking weather wouldn’t be around forever, so I ought to enjoy it for as long as I could. A few weeks after that, I discovered that riding the T in the morning only saved me around 10 minutes, so I might as well walk to work, too.

I’ve been commuting by foot almost exclusively since September, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love having 40 minutes before the day starts to amble the sleep away, and I love having 40 minutes after the day ends to unwind. Sure, there are lots of other walkers on my route, and yeah, I stroll past plenty of anxious drivers, but once my headphones are in and my podcast is playing, I don’t really notice the all traffic.

Weather hasn’t been much of a factor so far. A few mornings have been chilly-ish, but after a couple of blocks I’m so toasty from moving that I don’t even notice the cold. And on days that are especially rainy (Nor’easters, ho!) the T is always an option.

My goal is to continue commuting this way until the first big snow storm hits. I don’t have any interest in slipping on black ice or braving searing winds or being pelted in the face with wet snow — thank you very much — but as long as the weather’s cooperating, I’ll be walking.

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All cars go to heaven

I put my car out to pasture on Saturday. Sent it to the big expressway in the sky. The 1999 Honda CR-V that’s been so reliable since I started driving it 11 years ago is sitting in a lot somewhere waiting to be chopped up for parts, or worse — adopted by someone who’ll mistake it for a “junker.” I always intended to drive it until the wheels fell off, but the wheels are still very much attached and the car and I are not.

We’ll have to pay to park wherever we live in Boston, and public transportation in the Northeast is so good that having more than one car doesn’t make any sense. Sean and I both preferred to drive mine, especially on road trips, but it was almost 10 years older and 60,000 miles more experienced than Sean’s. I tried over and over to make the case for keeping mine over his, but ultimately that would’ve made even less sense than driving two cars up to Boston.

Objectively, my little car wasn’t perfect — it had a few dings; the muffler rumbled in the summer; and it was too 20th century for iPod integration. But it was surprisingly hardy for such an old model, and I was very fond of it and all the experiences we had together.

I’ve not been terribly broken up about most of the things I’ve had to get rid of to prepare for the move, but I barely held it together when I handed over my keys and watched my car fade into the distance as I abandoned it to a wholesale future. I just wish it had misbehaved more so I wouldn’t have felt like I was giving it up too soon.
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