Philly Journal, 11/26/13

It is, ultimately, not easy to live in the city without a car.  But it also is, also ultimately, completely glorious.

I will have a better feel for how physically challenging it is to live like this once I’m finally done “working” on my apartment, but my first two weeks here have been really tiring.  Mind you, this whole time, I’ve been working my regular job, which during the holiday season, is especially trying.  Then, on my time off, I’m still putting my apartment together, which normally isn’t too much work, but my place includes really narrow, really steep stairs to the second floor, and really unreliable, really steep stairs to the basement, and I’ve taken approximately one million trips up and down both—usually carrying things that weigh 100 pounds—in my first two weeks here.  Then, there is the bike ride to work.  I must admit, it is a little tiny bit further than I’d anticipated.  It’s about two miles each way, which isn’t a lot as the crow flies, but city biking is not your typical leisure riding, and of course the weather hasn’t been making this any easier, and of course the one million trips up and down stairs have not been making the biking any easier on my legs, which never seem to get completely rested before I ask another enormous thing of them.  Then, on top of this, any time I realize I need something for my new place that I don’t have–a dish drainer, a certain light bulb—I have to literally go ride my bike to get this, or walk to get this.  Luckily, unbeknownst to me when I moved in here, I am ridiculously close to tons and tons of convenient retail.  Literally two blocks from my apartment there is a Target, Best Buy, Lowes, a chain supermarket (for locals, it’s a Shop Rite), and tons of other stuff (there’s a Wal-Mart about half a mile away, but across a very busy road.  I’ve gone there, but that’s more for biking only, it’s not practically walkable).  So I got lucky there.  But coming from an entire life lived hopping in cars, it is a massive adjustment.

Now, having said all that, now I must tell you I love it.  It’s just a lot going on at once and a lot of things to adjust to all at once, but a few weeks or a month from now, when I’ve been settled in for awhile and my body has adjusted and it no longer gets dark at noon (I’m confident that adjusting to these changes at the same time as the clocks going back has made it more difficult for me) that I am going to 100% be all about this life.  Already, in many ways, I can’t imagine having a car.  I see these neighbors of mine worrying about parking, and soon, the snow, and all these one way streets and all the silly tangential bullcrap that comes with a car in general, and is totally amplified by having a car in the city, and I could not be more thrilled to be out of that rat race.  I need milk and soda, I get my little handcart and I walk over to the Shop Rite.  I breathe the air and nod to other pedestrians, immersed in our own, more slow, more visceral version of the travelling world.  Later today I will be going to a movie for the first time at what will be my “new” theater, a United Artists about .4 miles from me.  I will bundle up, hop on my bike, and ride it for seriously just a few minutes.  I will hitch it to a post or a bike rack at the movie theater and go see a movie.  Having paid for no gas, looked for no parking spots, waited for nothing to heat up.  Just using my own power, taking whatever route I want…I will just…go there.

There is a lot more to talk about and tell you about this lovely, lovely experience of living in the city, and now that my apartment is nearly done, blogs will be coming more frequently and, maybe, even more eloquently written than this one.  Stay tuned!

5 Responses to “Philly Journal, 11/26/13”

  1. It sounds fantastic!

  2. Sounds great, Seth! When I was in college I owned a car but decided that for the summer I would ride my bike (or walk) everywhere I could which included going to work. It felt great! I saw things I wouldn’t have seen by car, I took many different paths to work so I did not get bored, and sometimes I’d loop it twice before going home for exercise. That summer was a very formative year for me and your blog entry totally brought me back to those thoughts. Thank you!

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