Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Toll A Car Takes

I currently live in Los Angeles, and I do not own a car. People often don’t believe me when I say I live in Los Angeles without a car, but I do. When I need a vehicle I walk down the road to Enterprise rental car and get the vehicle I need, for only the exact time I need it.

This week I needed to attend a 2 day meeting in Pasadena. Since I live in Redondo Beach, I would need a car to make the 30 mile trip--so I headed down the street to Enterprise. By 8:05 AM I had my car and headed to Pasadena, experiencing that distantly familiar LA freeway commute. Google Maps said the trip would be 50 minutes total, but in reality it took almost 75 minutes.

I made this same trek back and forth for two days, with the longest trip taking almost 2 hours because of traffic. After each 10 hour day, I was exhausted. Sure an 8 hour, day long meeting was part of it, but the commute left me buzzing and exhausted each evening.

I just dropped off the rental car and walked back home along the beach, reflecting on how lucky I am to not have a car. After a couple of years of being car-less, I've gotten used to not having the thousand pound beast in my life, and when I return the rental car, this is always very clear to me.

During a normal work day, I can easily work 12 hours (not all in a row), and feel great each evening, and the next morning—resulting in me feeling happy and well adjusted in general. The toll of having a car, the Los Angeles commute, and 8 hour meeting, was expensive in both money and energy. Here I am on Wednesday morning back to work as normal, and I'm not nearly as productive as usual—an added expense.

The toll a vehicle took on my existence over the last two days is only this clear because of the way I normally live. Back when I owned a car, I never fully realized this tax on my time, energy and finances. With car ownership I had it even worse with insurance, tires, maintenance, parking, and other car related expenses, time and energy sucks. I'm so thankful every time I return a rental car, that I don't have these permanent sucks on my soul.

It has definitely taken some reengineering of my life, to be able to live without a car. My daughter Kaia doesn't live with me full-time, I have a very supportive partner in crime with Audrey, and I have a career that allows me to work remotely. All of which contributes to me being able to live this way, but after reminding myself of the toll a car takes on my life, on days like today, leaves me confident that I will never go back to owning a car--ever.



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