It’s been almost two years without a car. Of course part of that time I was in England, where public transportation is downright blissful in comparison to the US. I am a bit lucky, while in California; I work across the street from my home. The only time I need a vehicle is when I need to travel, or you know, get groceries. And even with my groceries, half the time I get them delivered.
However, it’s come to the point that if I weren’t moving in a few months, I would buy a car. Maybe it’s the wanderlust within me and I know that once I get back from this trip to England, it will be three months before I can travel again. My move to Portland doesn’t quite feel real yet. I’m not allowing myself to feel it at the moment. I’ve got too much with my trip to England on my brain to think that far in advance. Though, now that I’ve been in this town for almost a year (yes I call it a town even though it has a half-a-million people) I find it harder and harder to disconnect from it’s stupidity—which is really why I left in the first place.
When I lived here and thought I’d never leave due to working struggles, I coped by traveling. Weekend trips to San Diego, friends in San Francisco, family at the beach, or a long drive through the mountains. Now, I ride my bike to Starbucks and write. It’s not a bad thing. Only, people who think they know me preempt this quiet time, people whom I don’t really want to see. And people who remind me of a life that I gave up in order to be happy. Occasionally there are people that I genuinely love as humans—those are the times when I do like this town.
The first year and a half of being without a car was wonderful. When I’m in the UK and can travel with ease. When stateside, for the most part I’ve had no trouble getting from here to there when needed. A few times I tried to do the public transport thing for Doctor’s appointments it was a laugh. Two hours on a bus to go somewhere that was almost ten minutes in a car. And then after a thirty-minute appointment, go back. How anyone does that daily, my hat is off to you. In this town, the public transport (while cheap) is inefficient and stupid.
And then there was the rental car. If they had frequent flyer cards for rental cars, I’d be a platinum member. Rental cars are, by far the best thing for people who don’t own/want a vehicle. And while, I look forward to having a Zipcar pass when in Portland, if you are in a town without a Zipcar like service renting a car is the next best thing.
But my rental car days are nearly over. I discovered this when I had to go to LAX for my Global Entry interview (If you travel outside the country frequently, this is such an awesome program). The average wait time for a car rental, if you don’t get a new person, is about thirty to forty-five minutes from when you walk through the doors. My wait time for a government issued ID card that lets me though the airport with ease…fifteen minutes. How is it that a government program is more efficient than a privately owned car rental company? Where are the frequent renter kiosks? I want to scan my card or phone, and keys dispense for the next vehicle. Or a printout to take to the ‘online check-in’ service desk—my credit card automatically charged.
Maybe though, my itch to buy a car is like having short hair and wanting to grow it out. There’s a point when you can’t stand it, you just want to chop it off and not worry about the hairs, which are too short to fit in a ponytail and flop into your eyes. Am I at that wanderlust point? Where my options are limiting my travel arrangements? Where my itch for travel makes me do a short-term fix that could hinder my progress? Surely I can live three more months without a vehicle. Really, that’s all I have left in this year in the US. Surely I can.