I can remember my excitement… I was 16, had just gotten my driver’s license, and was buying my Grandfather’s old Buick Century. The type of car didn’t matter to me, I didn’t even care when friends made bumper stickers saying “friends don’t let friends drive Buicks” (credit: Matt Evans and Mike Stengel). It was heavy with a strange velvety interior and a suspension that would roll like you were on the ocean in a skiff. But so long as it had four wheels and an engine, I was going to drive the hell out of it. From that moment until I sold my sixth car, three weeks ago, I had my own wheels.
Having a car certainly gives a person freedom. But after a few weeks of not having a car, living in a metropolitan area with good mass transit has taught me that not having a car brings it’s own freedom. There are no car payments, insurance, gas prices to worry about, traffic to struggle through. It feels like the day is longer, because I spend less of it driving. I used to enjoy driving, but that was when it was an escape. Working the closing shift at Jake’s at seventeen, 25 minutes from home, and driving US-101 along the coast at midnight… I was free. Slowly, over the period of seventeen years, driving became a chore and more about the symbol in my driveway (thanks Jack Johnson).
The only question left is: If I was in north county San Diego would I have a car? Absolutely, but I’m glad that I don’t need one here.