LeftBehind

leftbehind
" … there's no escaping."

A decade ago, I sold our second car to a grand nephew for a quarter and The Muse and I embarked on a great adventure we're still engaged in today. We became a one car family. At the beginning, we relocated into a neighborhood where five bus lines passed within two blocks. For a six week period while there, we even went completely carless. No big deal. The Muse, in the seven years we lived there, drove the car to work exactly twice. I'd usually drop and fetch her at the mile away Metro station and other than those excursions, the car mostly sat unless I was restocking the larder. Now we live in a neighborhood that fancies itself a village. Bus service almost doesn't exist, so we maintain a fresh tension in our little one car family.

I still usually drive The Muse to work, a quick seven mile sprint down tight S turns, the alternative being that I'm stranded for the day.
Our village features no sidewalks. Walking to the village center shops means a two mile tightrope walk each way along unpaved verges of a two lane blacktop. Even the trusty old bicycle affords little respite since we live on the slope of a genuine mountain peak where it's brutal uphill in every direction. I walk more than ride the damned thing here. When The Muse takes the car, I'm stuck at home for the day.

Being stuck at home for the day has its virtues. Though I sometimes feel myself going stir crazy, I more often feel a sense of liberation. No ability to go anywhere also means no need to go. Whatever urgency might call me out falls on deaf ears when the car's not here. You might wonder why we don't just get a second car. It's a moral question for me, the same sort of question I might ask about owning a firearm. The law allows me to both own a second car and a handgun, but for me a higher moral imperative insists that I choose to own neither. I can plan ahead instead, heading out early to fetch that needed gallon of milk or I can just drink water through the day. My absence of alternatives proves to generate more choice points than I would ever encounter if empowered to act upon my every whim.

Still, some mornings as I hear the garage door closing, I feel LeftBehind. My potential seems dried up and the upcoming ten hours face me like a small prison sentence. I have my work to do and all the time in the day to engage in it, but The Villa sometimes seems too big for my reaches. I tend to sequester myself into a single room through the day, a little afraid if I must inhabit the whole place all by myself. The house screams its silences, echoing in subtle intensity. Most of my work involves reading. A working writer might read four or more times more than he writes, and I prove no exception to that rule. I hardly ever spend these days cleaning, saving those chores for days when I focus entirely away from my work. I will have supper ready when The Muse returns, the sort of supper not chosen for its ability not to burn in my absence, for fetching The Muse takes an easy hour and a half between picking my way down out of these foothills, waiting in the lot for the appointed hour, waiting again while she reaches a stopping point and hikes out from behind the fences, and we drive back up into the Foothills again.

Even when I keep the car, I sometimes feel LeftBehind as she slips out to flee into her daily cacophony and I slip away into my mostly mute day. I often make my way to an anonymous coffee shop where I grab a second cup of decaf and camp in the quiet corner to write while my solitude bounds itself in commercial cacophony, two seventy three a cup. I overhear a half dozen conversations there while conversing with only myself. I exchange pleasantries on my way out, reentering the latest recorded book's plot as I back out of my parking space. I return home in narrated isolation, often choosing the secret passage up twisty switchbacks if only to slightly delay my return. I figure that a second car would change nothing but our expense burden. I'm just as free as I choose to be whether LeftBehind or pulling ahead, there's no escaping.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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