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September 16, 2013 - Carrie Olson
I miss my car. My cute little black Nissan Versa had everything I could possibly need - good gas mileage, Bluetooth, a nice sound system, and a hatchback. I could zip around town and load that little hatchback with groceries - all the while looking stylish in the process.
Almost a year ago, I realized that keeping a vehicle here was impossible. I had to re-park it every day on a very crowded street (sometimes having to leave it four or five blocks away), pay expensive insurance and registration, and I was quickly depleting my savings account while job hunting. So the car was very low on the priority list. Health insurance or a car that I use maybe once a week?
So I took it on one last road trip back to Iowa and it sold fairly quickly. After flying back to the East Coast, I had to make a very specific purchase: A cart. I needed something to haul my purchases back and forth, and a cart is a must-have in this area. We went to Bed, Bath & Beyond and bought the higher end model (if there is such a thing). It's navy blue with a canvas bag with a top with Velcro, in case it rains. So whenever we have to make big purchases, we walk to the grocery store or Target and lug it with us.
Having a car is something I definitely took for granted, from age 16 on. I miss the days when I could just make a shopping list, hop in my car and park it outside the shopping center. Now, it takes a lot more time to get ready for such a daunting task.
We go twice a month for a grocery haul. It takes time and preparation - I start making the list a couple days ahead, find coupons, and write down casserole ingredients. Sometimes things on the list have to be crossed off, as the cart fills up fast. And with such a heavy load in a cart that doesn't always cooperate, grocery shopping is now a two-person job. We have to find a night where Nate is not in class. We hate going on the weekends, because the store is oh-so crowded. So a 7 p.m. trip is usually what is on the schedule. Oh, I go to the farmer's market once a week for our produce and I run to Target by myself for other items - but we really have to plan out this whole grocery thing well in advance.
It's kind of a headache. Our regular grocery store is about a half mile away, although we have a corner market near us. Unfortunately, the market charges almost double for many items, so we just head there if it's absolutely necessary.
It's kind of a blessing, though, if I have a craving for chips or something I really don't need, I really have to think about whether I want to travel to such lengths just to get it. My planning skills have had an overall facelift and our budget is healthier, since we must plan in advance.
But today, I'm out of paper towels. And garbage bags. And detergent. I don't want to go home after work to retrieve the cart and proceed to Target (adding more mileage to my trip), so I brought some heavy-duty canvas bags (a must here, no plastic bags for us!). No one will be able to help me, as Nate's in class until 9 p.m. My list is long and my back and arms will be sore from the walking back to the apartment. And while Coke is on sale, I will have to decide whether staying caffeinated during the day this week is more important than stocking up on Tide to clean my sheets. Oh, priorities.
So when you are driving your SUV to the mall or cruising to the dollar store in your minivan, I will be dreaming of owning a car, or any vehicle, again someday and trying not to think of my aching arms laden with grocery bags.