Summer is officially here, and I’ve made it through my first year of teaching! I suppose now I can finally get to the 1,347 “saved links” on facebook (approx 90% of which are biking/infrastructure related)..
… Or I’ll ride my bike. With the Ride to Remember coming up in July, I have some miles to log to prepare for a 3 day cross-state trek. I’m also going to ride the Allegheny Passage at the end of July, and attend a kayaking/yoga retreat right before school starts back up.
In a recent conversation a friend told me that she didn’t know if she could afford to move to DC with the salary she was offered at a new job that she was really excited about. I told her that I have several friends in DC and NYC who haven’t owned a car in years, which helps them afford the higher cost of living. She said that she didn’t know if she could give up her car, because to her it meant freedom.
To each her own. I get that ‘freedom’ is for most people the ability to get in your car and go wherever you want, whenever you want. I remember that feeling. But that concept faded into an adult world of working to pay bills, and looking back on the last 10 years I realize that vague daydream of driving off toward the California sunset would be better accomplished in a rental car (or better yet, a touring bike). And on a day to day basis, I end up more satisfied by a ride outside to the closest store to get something I actually need than I was when I would drive out to Target for some random shopping. Not having a car has also freed me of obligations I used to feel to go everywhere and do everything.
But most of all, for me freedom is having time to myself and not spending all of it working for a paycheck (even if I do happen to love my job). Before I sold my car last year, every May I would have to fork out about $1000 or so in property tax, insurance payments, and frequent repairs (my car was a lemon). Most people view this as just a necessary evil; to me it felt like torture to spend my hard earned money on something I didn’t really want in the first place. The first bike ride I took after I sold my car is still engrained in my memory, as I felt as if a physical weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.
Now that I have summers off, the sizeable chunk of teacher salary that would go towards car ownership can be applied in a much more satisfying way. So I’m going off to Mexico in a couple of weeks for a 10 day jaunt, and my goal is to visit a new country or state every year. I’ll think of it as a bucket list to go along with my bike it list. Because my bike is more to me than just a replacement for my car. To me, it’s freedom.