I started driving at 16. First in car parks then around the local housing estates. Well, okay, occasionally I took my parents shitty yellow Nissan Sunny for a drive when they were out for the day. And yes, it was illegal but come on, I was young and invincible so it was going to be totally fine!? I was desperate to drive because driving meant freedom. Driving was my ticket out.
Unfortunately, it wasn't all it's cracked up to be. Yes, I passed my test and the feeling was incredible, and I'm thinking that's it I’m out of this tin pot town. Reality was, nobody bought me a car and I couldn’t even afford to put petrol in the borrowed custard ugly one.
Cut to now; I am 40 years old and have a baby that HATES the car seat. Like, seriously hates it. What am I going to do? I have to drive - I drive everywhere. How will I get the shopping, take the kids to their swimming lessons? and the list goes on... I can't nip to the charity shops in Nailsworth, I can't take my baby to classes, I can't even pop to my mums for a cup of tea and change of scenery...Sorry. I'm boring myself now.
So, two weeks ago I was forced to the decision to not to drive anywhere unless absolutely necessary. And I can't believe I'm saying this, but I feel so free. I don’t have the car baggage over my head. I walked into town last week and I spoke to people properly as I felt I had more time. I wasn’t thinking “Shit, did I put one hour or two on the car?”.
A couple of days later I got the bus into Stroud and I met my elderly neighbour who I hadn’t seen for a long time. She is 91 and told me that she still goes line dancing and that she had lost her son and various other interesting anecdotes from her life. We spoke for 15 mins and I left thinking what an inspiration.
The next day I walked to the doctors and on the way out I met a really lovely women who was leaving Stroud after 5 years. She was an artist and a northern lass too. We chatted for 5 minutes before heading our separate ways.
My point is, these lovely by-chance meetings were happening when I would have previously been stuck in my car. Connecting with people is so important. You could brighten up someones day or visa versa. My days have certainly been enriched by giving other people more of my time and just being present.
So as we try out different car seats to try and make our journeys more bearable, have a think about letting go of your car for a day or two. The environment may be your reason, or maybe your health. I certainly need to be fitter, having a baby 18 years after my first is a very different experience.
So To Ditch or Not To Ditch? That is the question. Or just park it for now...