I set out this morning on a (very rare) solo errand. I didn’t go far — just down the hill, towards the canal, still in the 1st district of Vienna, so still in my neighborhood. Today was absolutely beautiful — sunny skies, cool weather (the breeze was a little chilly, but not unexpectedly so for Vienna in November). It was a great day to be out for a walk, and, given that the mental energy I typically use to make sure my kids are happy and safe was momentarily unused, I contemplated how much I truly love not having a car.
Actually, maybe it’s more accurate to say that I love not needing to have a car. I don’t mind having a car, if it’s free, and I don’t have to drive it very far very often, but honestly, right now, I prefer to not have one. I really enjoy taking a quick trip down the hill to the toy store, or around the block to the grocery store, or downstairs to the stationery place — and I enjoy doing all of that MORE because I get to do it on foot. Walking doesn’t carry the stresses (however small) of being in the car: potentially getting stuck in traffic, being even slightly worried about the skill and awareness of the other drivers, finding a good parking space, having enough gas, etc. Stepping out my front door, and setting out, on foot, to accomplish my tasks for the day, is really quite peaceful. I find going out and running my errands so much more inviting and simpler because I can get there by walking. I think it’s like the difference between having to “go to the gym” to run versus just being able to step out the front door and run — it takes so much less motivation, thought and mental energy to just be able to do it, without having to “go” anywhere.
I also really like the awareness I have of my neighborhood and my community because I walk through it every day. I see the people, I hear the children playing in the park, I smell the good food cooking in the restaurants and the wood smoke from the chimneys and the leaves on the ground. I know that it takes me 10 minutes to get to the toy store but 15 to get back, because the hill is long and steep. I like it. I like the sense I have of where I am and what’s around me. I like being in touch with this city.