cafe mama

finding magic every day

life with kids, and without a car, ignited . february 20 . 2009

truman and monroe on the springwater trail w frosty shadows
It is for you I pray too.

June will mark the third year my family and I have lived without a car. In June 2006, our tags needed to be renewed and our insurance had expired. One day, miles from home, I watched my tire go slowly flat as I tried to sell little stuffed birds at an arts festival. I sold no birds but I discovered a new way of life.

I would go on to do many things; to go on a car diet; to buy a most wonderful bike; to embrace cycling in the rain and cold. I would go on to, one day, find myself desperate and alone and with a flat tire, and I would not call AAA, but I would write about it late at night and hours later see Todd from clever cycles arrive in my front yard, past midnight, with his folding bike and his tools to get me back on the road.

I have named myself: I am a family biking evangelist. I want to spread the life-change that is giving up your car. I want to help you with tips and how-tos (bring lots of spare batteries for your bike lights; learn how to patch a tire; carry a towel for wiping off seats in the rain; use spare inner tubes for carrying cargo; long laces are your foe; reflective tape is a fantastic fashion accessory), I want to remind you of important stop-gap measures (you may not want to cancel your car insurance unless you have at least one friend or family member with a car large enough to lug your family in a pinch, for instance; failing that, Zipcar is good). As much as I want to do this, I do not want to be the other web sites whose raison d'etre is advertising revenue; the ones which assail you with lists of handy tips for everything. I want you to see the possibility; to embrace the alternative as one without fear, no, instead it is the choice of freedom. It is not just freedom from parking tickets and plugging meters and tow trucks and road rage, though these are wonderful reasons to give up one's car; it is freedom from solitude, from locking oneself in a metal capsule and becoming one with your make and model, one who is separate from thousands, millions of other ones. In solitude and anonymity is your fear, your isolation, your loss of hope. Biking and riding the bus are the controvert.

Last night, I did not speak at Ignite Portland 5. Instead, I led a meditation [pdf link], and if you are a parent who drives a car and I have not changed your life, I pray that I made you believe that change is entirely within your grasp.

Here is what I wish to do for you: to open the aperture all the way into my world. Oh yes, I occasionally feel trapped or hungry or cold, anxious to be anywhere but a smelly overcrowded bus; a cold bike full of flailing little boys; but for the balance of the time, I travel with my eyes wide open, seeing everything so clearly, hearing what they have to say, feeling the little arms of a little boy creep around my waist for warmth and security. Life with kids and without a car is existing in an extended state of dreamtime. You are not en route. You are already here.

paying the bills

read my previous post . yearning to be out for dinner . february 12. 2009