One of the reasons I moved to the DC area after completing my service was that there was plentiful public transportation, which led me to believe that I would not need a car here.
I was wrong.
Sure, the Metro goes all over the District and out (fairly far) to the suburbs. The bus goes to many places. I live in downtown Silver Spring, which means I am two blocks from the Metro and close to many bus stops. In theory, I have no problems navigating the area.
Except when I need or want to do something outside of the immediate area – then it gets tricky. Or want to go somewhere that entails transport and carrying heavy items. Or when you don’t work in the District. Or when you want to go to say, a winery for the day, or to Pennsylvania, or a host of other places.
There is so much to see and do in this area that I want to get out and explore. I want to go to Harper’s Ferry. I want to visit my friend in Philadelphia.I want to go to wineries. I want to be able to go to Target or Trader Joe’s without begging a ride, or not worry about a bus schedule if I have to work on a weekend.
I previously had lived in states and cities that pretty much required a car, except when I was overseas, and I admit that it spoiled me to have one. I moved here with every intention of not having a car (to have one here is exceedingly expensive). But the fact of the matter is, I missed my independence – that ultimate American quality of wanting to go where I want when I want. It is a selfish quality in a sense – I want, I want, I want. But I was, quite frankly, exhausted with the amount of time riding on or waiting for public transport takes. Weekends in the District, with all of the track work, are hell. Waiting twenty minutes for the next metro or bus after a certain time of day – also not so fun.
So I finally said the hell with it and got a car.
I got a car that I had wanted for a few years, and which I had been researching – a Prius. And I admit that I love it. I loved it from the moment I sat in the driver’s seat to test drive it. And I will give myself major points for getting a nicer model than I anticipated for the price I wanted to pay (even though it is more than I have ever paid for a car in my life!). I will admit that I do not “need” this car for my every day commute, but man is it nice to have. And last weekend, I took it out for its first foray onto the highway, by going to VA, and on a dirt road in VA to see a couple of those wineries.
I feel like I have my independence back. Certainly I have gained some more time in my day, which means I am making other changes to get myself back to a positive place. I hate to admit that I am now bought back into the American “car culture” but the fact of the matter is, I am.
At least it gets great gas mileage.