Thursday, May 29, 2014

Adventures of a one-car cross-county household

Life gets a lot cheaper when you move in with somebody, and Alex and I recently took our Ann Arbor and Detroit habitations and merged them into one big beautiful Ypsilanti. Besides sharing rent, cooking, and bunnies, we decided to junk his clunker and rely solely on my decade-old Ford Focus, which has belonged to every member of my family and traversed the country twice.

Bunny numero uno
It's not like we have ten children, or any other small mammals in our care besides the furry type. But still, with our wildly regional schooling and employment patterns, there are days in which we have to be...creative.

Today, I had to be in Detroit to do my bus work. Alex had to be in Ann Arbor for research, but then in Royal Oak in the afternoon for shadowing. You might ask, how did we do it without redundant car trips, without shaving precious hours off our workdays? (MUST BE PRODUCTIVE!)

Well, in the morning Alex bicycled to Ann Arbor (approx. 45 min), and I took the car to Detroit (usually approx. 1 hour but I am incapable of staying on jammed-up freeways so I took a detour and got lost in the industrial Southwest). After lunch, he biked back to Ypsi, changed into scrubs, bussed back to Ann Arbor, and took my bus from Ann Arbor to Detroit. I told him where I'd parked the car, he found it and drove to Royal Oak. I finished work, and now I'm writing this while I wait to be picked up and whisked to Ypsi in a couple hours. I mapped it out with my mad Paint skills:

drawing is not to scale.

It's not the picture of freedom exactly, but that's what these first steps towards transit-orientation will be about in our region. The culture of transit is a culture of compromise and flexibility. You can't go exactly where you want exactly when you want, and in many situations, that's okay. After all, if it weren't for this arrangement I wouldn't be sitting in the most yuppyish coffeeshop writing things, undistracted by netflix or the pigeons outside my window (actually they're mourning doves - sorry guys - I am not a birder really....).

Now, not everyone has that flexibility, and some people have to be at work early, pick up their kids right after, go to another job in the evening, etc. But for those who can afford the time and inconvenience (talking to you, young educated professionals who putter on your computers in coffee shops!), letting transit mold your life a little is exactly what our faltering, baby network needs. It needs people believing in it, shepherding it, saying kind words when it stumbles. And fighting like hell in the political realm (luckily many of my friends and colleagues are doing this, and they are all amazing, and you should help them).

My brother would be calling me a communist right now. And of course, we all dream of the day when transit in this area is good enough to actually can compete with cars. But for now, it's a new epoch in la casa de Carolyn, and figuring out how to live your own life responsibly and sanely is what it's all about.

Bunny numero dos

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