House arrest

Dude, where's my car going?
Dude, where’s my car going?

(No mum, I’m not in custody.)

For basically the majority of my adult social life I’ve had a car or, at the very least, easy access to one.

So now, at 28 and living on my own for the very first time and in a town without public transport and where the weather has an impact on day-to-day walking around, I feel a little restricted. Going out and doing things in my free time – whether for leisure or by necessity – suddenly feels like a lot harder of a task. My workmates have been so incredibly generous on giving me rides to and from work, but I do hate to overstay my welcome on that front.

I had (perhaps overconfidently) assumed that I’d land in a city big enough to warrant a bus or train line so that I could put off buying a car and getting a license for as long as possible. That’s not a slight on Augusta though; most things here aren’t far apart and for the longer trips a taxi isn’t expensive.

But it’s not until you have no car and no public transport that you realise how tough it can be to go about day-to-day errands. If I plan to go to the gym before work, I’ve gotta account for an extra half-hour on each side to give myself enough time to safely traverse slush and snow along streets where the sidewalks aren’t plowed (because which idiot walks anywhere in winter?). If I’m doing groceries or cleaning my filthy tags at the laundromat, I’ve gotta add $5 to $10 to the cost because I’ll probably need a cab for at least one of the trips. Same goes for social outings, although thankfully I only live a mile from the best bar in this part of the country, The Liberal Cup, where I’d probably live if it were feasible.

The most frustrating part is the vicious cycle of bureaucracy I have to go through to be able to get on the road again. I don’t want to sink all my leftover cash into a car, so I need to finance part of one. I’ve paid my cash half on a 2006 Subaru Outback (irony++) but it lingers at the dealership until I can get the rest of the funds. But no one will give me a loan until I have full vehicle insurance. Fair enough I guess, since the car is collateral.

But I can’t get insurance until I have a Maine driver license. And unfortunately, despite having driven for over 10 years without an accident, I have to start from scratch and take a learner license written test again like a 16-year-old, then do a driving test to prove I can do it on this side of the car and the road. Shit. And unfortunately, Maine’s bureau of motor vehicles is backed up like a bar toilet and can’t get me in until sometime in January, date to be determined. If I bomb the written test I “only have to wait a couple of weeks” before I can take it again. Oh, is THAT all?!

Being carless has its upsides though of course. Walking a kilometre and a half home from the bar is a great way to burn off at least ONE of the Cup’s excellent beers, not to mention it’s a decent enough warm-down after the gym. And then there’s the fact that I don’t have to pay for gas, insurance or repayments yet.

In any case, as the famous philosopher Cake once surmised, “I will survive.”


5 thoughts on “House arrest

  1. I relate. Been to foreign lands — e.g, Michigan & Ohio & New Hampshire & Tanzania & Italy — and lived in strange and constricted environments. You did this move for a reason, and now you know why. Challenging is a word that only begins to describe your experience. Just savor the discomfort of what is yet to come.

    There is absolutely no place like Maine, and your triumph through this transitional challenge will make you a solid survivor. Savor the experience. Later, when you share it with us, I will relish the tale. In the interim, thanks for sharing.

    Jim Milliken

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