Ahh. The cool breeze blows through my hair as the clear sky sun smiles down on us. Our car whizzes past the exits toward the beach. The joyful rush of ocean air through my nostrils brings back memories of the Rhode Island beach that I went to with my family as a young boy. This is LIVING, L-I-V-I-N.
Yet, as I look back on my memories of car vacations, they are also infiltrated by thoughts of traffic, temporary burns from hot seatbelts, unnecessarily loud motorcycles, and the discomfort from sitting too long in a cramped backseat. We will EVER get there? says my young mind. Yes, we certainly will, but not without the collective burden of owning and operating a car.
To have a car is the American dream for suburban adolescents. It was the liberator in my town, freeing my friends and me from the legal bonds of car-owing and operating adults. Whew! The road was finally ours to use and abuse.
Don’t get me wrong; I loved the cult-like joy I experienced when one of my closest friends obtained their junior license. No more yellow school buses or waiting for my mom to pick me up from soccer practice. And yet the freedom I have felt the past 7 years of living without a car, first in Madison, Wisconsin and now in Brooklyn, NY has forever altered that adolescent joy. And the statistics are abhorrent:
“According to the World Health Organization, road traffic injuries caused an estimated 1.24 million deaths worldwide in the year 2010, slightly down from 1.26 million in 2000. This is one person killed every 25 seconds.”
Not only does the cost of owning a car and the yearly depreciation deter me from ever owning one, but I also have the momentary fear of being in an accident every time I am in a car. My memory of joyful car rides to the beach is not gone, nor is the necessity to sometimes be a car passenger. But for now I’ll take the subway.