The aptly named Rattletrap has sat idle on McPherson Street for two weeks now as part of my car-less adventure as I hoofed it around downtown ― and I have to admit my life has been pretty much unchanged. Well, except for the fact that the act of walking has been a serious struggle.
See, I took a tumble ― ka-chump! ― square on my left knee at the time when I perhaps needed that knee the most. Banged it up to the point where I really should have gone (on foot, of course) to the hospital for stitches. (My doctor later confirmed this to be true.)
What I actually did, however, was declare, as blood dripped down my calf and puddled in my shoe, that it simply was a scrape a little peroxide and a Band-Aid could cure. Shortly thereafter, I rode my bike three miles in sizzling heat, squated into a kayak and paddled across Eastwood Lake, and then biked the three miles home, my ad hoc gauze-and-medical tape bandage loosened in the fresh water and flapping in the wind as if I was an unraveling mummy. I was too excited about being back on my bike, which I had barely ridden since my now 19-year-old son was small enough to be in a seat on the back, feeling the wind brush my cheeks, delirious in the bluster of speeding by graduation cookouts and the Mad River.
Of course, this happened on Day Four. So I haven’t really walked many places. More like gimped, lumbering about town. Very. Slowly. Barely able to bend my left knee.
And that, my friends, is what caused me to cheat.
It was my honest intention to take the bus to get groceries for a dinnertime game of Mah Jongg I was hosting. I figured my first bus adventure might as well be XTREME: A trip to the grocery store. But on Sunday morning when a friend asked if I wanted to run errands, including a stop at Trader Joe’s, and offered to drive, I simply replied, my voice taut with pain, “Yes.”
And so it was: convenience trumped principle. Justification? It wasn’t my car. I wasn’t driving. I admit that wasn’t the only day friends picked up my gimpy self and gave me a ride. I never asked to be carted hither and yon, but it happened.
I also haven’t stepped foot in a bus. After reading Megan Cooper’s awesome series of articles chronicling her adventures riding the bus, it’s clear I need to be able to bring my bike along. (I mean, why not learn from someone else’s mishaps?) And this knee ain’t biking nowhere for a minute.
So my adventure will have to be continued at another time. Not to say I didn’t encounter some interesting things limping around the past couple of weeks: A drag queen on roller blades. Some dude rockin’ out with an ’80s-style boom box on his shoulder. Another dude riding a bicycle with a seat that appeared made from the seat of a rocking chair.
Walking forces you to be patient, slow your mind. Notice things. It leads to unexpected adventures.
For example, one evening (pre-fall), as I’m walking home from Drake’s Downtown Gym and jabbering on the phone with my BFF, I realize I’m walking right by her condo building.
“Girl, are you home?” I ask. “Scoot downstairs and join me for a soft-serve cone at RiverScape.” She does. We hang, chitter-chatter and get covered in melting ice cream. While there, we notice a big group of people doing jumping jacks under the pavilion. Come to discover it’s a free boot camp. (Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 9:30 a.m.)
I wanted to live the month of June as if I have no car ― which, considering the condition of The Rattletrap, could very well become the case. But in these two weeks it really hit me that if, like so many people, I did not own a car, the freedom of mobility to which I’ve become so accustomed would cease to exist.
Which brings me to this: In a country ― a society, a culture ― sprung from the idea that to be fully human is to be free, does that freedom include the ability to move about from place to place as and when one desires? Because if that’s part of the USA freedom equation, one thing now is clear to me: freedom of mobility = owning a car.
Or does it? Readers, share your thoughts while I sign off to bandage my knee …