Monday, October 31, 2011

Transportation irritation

Not too long ago I realized that I have been driving a car for more than half of my life.  As a girl growing up in the boonies of the rural Midwest, getting a driver's license was a pivotal moment.  I can imagine teenagers living in densely populated urban centers also feel a great sense of accomplishment when they pass the driving test--a milestone moment in American culture to be sure--but it's so much more than a rite of passage when you live in a sea of cornfields.  It means that you finally have the freedom to get out of those cornfields.  I don't live in rural America anymore (or Los Angeles for that matter), and my need for a car has been drastically reduced.  In fact, I'm not legally allowed to drive a car here.  The Dutch government has deemed that my American driver's license is not transferable, and I'd have to go through a rather expensive process to get a Dutch license, so I just don't drive our car.  This has never been an issue for me, because I absolutely love my bicycle.  Correction, it never was an issue for me until I had a baby and could no longer hop on my bicycle to run errands or basically go anywhere.

Funny thing about babies, you can't leave them at home even just for a quick trip to the store.  Also, newborn babies can't ride their own bicycles.  This leaves me with three options for getting around: walk and carry her, walk and push her in a stroller, take the tram.  I utilize all three of these options, although walking takes a long time.  Public transportation in Amsterdam is pretty good, and I can get just about anywhere, but it still takes longer than riding a bicycle and something about the hustle and bustle of it all exhausts me.  Last week I needed to go to the store to get cabbage for a recipe.  It was a lovely fall day, and I enjoyed the walk to the grocer, but the whole process took about an hour.  I could have accomplished the same task on my bike in about fifteen minutes.  I am happy I got out of the house and got to enjoy all of this, even if it felt like it took forever to run a simple errand:

Super cute baby, just hanging out in the stroller.

The park I have to walk through to get to the store.
Enjoying some nice color on the trees.
I couldn't help but think about how much longer everything takes, not just because of the baby, but also because I have no car and I now essentially have no bike.  It makes me feel a little cut off from the world.  Going somewhere requires so much more time and effort now that my transportation choices have been reduced.  Granted, it's still pretty easy to get around, so I am not really isolated.  I can't begin to imagine how I would feel if I were living near my parents in rural Indiana without a car.  I don't even know how I would get to the store.  Here I'm just annoyed that I can't easily bike to my favorite coffee place to get some work done (not that I'm getting a lot of work done with a baby).  Now that Johanna is getting a little bigger we take her along in the car for our big weekend grocery shopping trips.  For the first month, Niek did the weekly shopping by himself, leaving me at home with the baby.  Talk about feeling left out.  Until Johanna is old enough to sit in a bike seat, I'll be taking it slow.  Perhaps it's good that I have to walk everywhere since I can't leave a little baby at home alone to go for my runs.  Once she has good enough head control, watch out.  We'll be whizzing by on our sweet, two-wheeled ride.  Maybe something like this fancy, blue number I saw on my walk.

Happy Halloween, everyone!  Enjoy the costumes and candy!  No costumes in the Netherlands but here is a picture of me and Johanna hanging out in our cloud pjs, which are kind of like costumes, right?

1 comment:

  1. Ahhh, Diana!! That is a fabulous picture. You are too cute together. Also, how sweet is J in the bumble bee?? Looks like a fantastic stroll through the autumn leaves. So jealous. xo