not carlessPosted: September 17, 2007
So I have this thing, for lack of a better term, about my carbon foot print. Similar and closely tied to the whole Counting of Local Food Stuffs thing. You know how it is: (somewhat) obsessively turn off electrical things – ceiling fans, lights, stereo; floggings for excessive air travel; shopping at the farmer’s market; not driving whenever possible; and so on and so forth. The driving is the big one. I really don’t do it much. I have gone close to 6 weeks without buying gas. So every now and then, I begin to wonder if I could do without a car. Could I arrange things so I simply didn’t need one? I could, I think. I come close in the summer, when Sophie is at camp. (The World of Sophie would have to change dramatically for this to happen for real.) I can walk or take the bus most places I need to go. Now, I love my car – for its great mileage, its longevity, its great handling, its kindness to me in still running after all this time and abuse. Love is really the word for it. But could I do without?
Yesterday, my pregnant friend from the Valley (PFFV), called to tell me she was coming over the mountain for a trip to the fancy market across the way from me. Was I up for a visit? Why, yes, I was. I always am. So I did some weeding on the north side of the house, waiting. And waiting. I was just sort of starting to worry when I checked the messages on my phone. Just how many things can go wrong when you’re a PFFV and you’re driving over the mountain to come to the fancy market? Many, in my imagination. But in real life, generally the most obvious thing goes wrong – car trouble.
Poor PFFV’s car had stopped, not 8 blocks from my house and she had left me a message saying so. I called her back, keys in hand to go pick her up, and when she answered her phone, she said another friend of ours from the Valley, had just pulled up behind her. Their town in the Valley is close to an hour away, and, as I’ve said, over a *mountain* so it was funny and fortuitous that he was suddenly right there behind her. I am quite sure he relished his role of white knight, because he’s that kind of guy. Anyway. After lots of twisty and roundabout phone calls (between us and to my dad, who I am still convinced can tell me how to fix anything – romantic little girl notions never die) and thoughts (drive it? to where? tow it? to where?) and phonebook perusals in search of open service stations, I walked down Main street to meet them.
Now, the obvious plan would be for PFFV to do her fancy market shopping and then have our other friend carry her back over the mountain when he went, and this was the intended course of action when I arrived on the scene. But in the course of watching the tow truck guy (who later told us he has 8 children ages 2 to 33 – jesus fucking christ) hook up the poor dead car to the tow truck’s towing apparatus, it came out that said other friend from the Valley had plans to go to a party *on* the mountain, which he was postponing to continue his role as white knight (“every party needs a bachelor,” he told me – this is where we smile indulgently and shake our heads). Well, I’ll take as much time with PFFV as I can get, so I said I’d drive her over post-fancy-market-shopping and we’d all be just as happy.
Just to clarify, this was not as selfless as it may seem. PFFV can cook like a house on fire and I was angling for some dinner made in her beautiful kitchen and a short visit with her ever charming husband. Plus, the weather was the kind that makes a girl like me think maybe there is a heaven and we’re in it (oh, wait – I think that all the time) and there is not much that can rival a trip to the Valley for looks.
So off we toddled to the fancy market and over the mountain and to the regular grocery and right on to Church street. PFFV was buying things to cater her own baby shower. Because she loves nothing better than feeding people. And we had dinner, and looked at baby things and prepped treats for the shower and her ever charming husband was ever charming and gave me sawdust for my worm bin (Oh, the worm bin – it gets a post all its own!) and we talked and talked and ate and cooked and it was perfect.
And if I had no car, it would have played out very differently. So tonight before bed, I will put on my Certified Fair Trade Hairshirt™ – made with real hair shaved from organic nuns and guaranteed to itch enough to cause a rash bigger than your carbon footprint and to remind you that internal combustion engines are fucking up the planet faster than you can say the Hail Mary. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.