cafe mama

finding magic every day

car diet: never wanna go back . july 23 . 2006

getting takeout from pok-pok on the bikeOn Friday, a magical thing happened. I was getting off my bike in front of Bar Pastiche, one of my new fave hangouts. I was meeting a bunch of mamas for a much-needed glass of pink Spanish wine and some tapas. I was feeling broke, but happy, and loving the fact that I didn't need to scrape up a few dollars for gas or bus fare to meet the ladies. And a man -- Jene-Paul was his name -- offered me a bike.

It was a beautiful, beautiful bike (photos: to come as soon as I scrape together photo processing dollars, much more fun to scrape together than gas dollars). He told me its story, it was manufactured by Nishiki in the 60s (hubby loves Nishiki) under the brand "American Eagle." It had nickel wheel-guards with gorgeous floral detailing. It had pretty handlebars and a kickstand. Oddly, someone had installed a little doo-dad that allowed the bike to be unscrewed and folded in half. He wanted $10 for it, but when I told him I was broke, he said I could take it home for free.

I did so, and Hau dropped it off for me a few hours later. I started riding it around, and it's a great cruiser. I plan to put a basket on the back. I plan to toodle around on it, stopping at garage sales and farmer's markets and taking lots of photos. It will be my "fun" bike, a foil for my serious shredder of a mountain bike. And as I rode to Trader Joe's last night for bread and bananas, I thought... I never want to go back to my car-dependent past.

My family has been on its low-car diet for two weeks, officially, and nearly six weeks, unofficially. Though there are definitely times when cars come in handy, it's almost equally useful not to have a car. I simply can't, for instance, take my babysitter home (although I plan to let her borrow my bike from time-to-time). Jonathan can't pick up Sgt. What's-her-name for drill (which always adds a few hours to his already-long-and-stressful weekend). We can't just jump in the car and end up at Target, where we'll find that toy for Everett, and the new bathing suit for me, that we can't possibly do without.

I'm starting to wish it wasn't going to end. We'll probably sell the car at the end of it, and though we'll get something else, eventually (maybe an old Vanagon?), I'm feeling a bit resentful that, someday soon, I'll have to go back to swiping my card at the gas station, to sending in those checks to Geico. I kind of love this car-free life.

read my previous post . hot times at cafe au play . july 20 . 2006