As I sit in my mo-partment on this dreary, drizzly day, awaiting the arrival of my groceries, I am reminded of a storybook from my childhood. It was one of those fabulous Little Golden Books, the ones with the hard cardboard covers and the golden spines covering their bindings. (I remember having piles of those books, my favorites being The Tawny Scrawny Lion and The Large and Growly Bear. This may date me a bit, but I even remember when Little Golden Books were the prizes that came with Happy Meals at McDonald’s. I do believe there were several copies of The Pokey Little Puppy scattered throughout our house that can be directly credited to the Golden Arches. There was none of the shoddy plastic toys that end up crammed under the seats of a minivan or that fall apart before the kid even gets a chance to eat the now requisite four slices of apple that are included in each and every McMeal of happiness. Little Golden Books were the way to go!)
But I digress. The sky is gray. Misty moisture hangs in the air. Groceries are to be delivered soon. All of this together makes me think of those picture books- namely The City Mouse and the Country Mouse. The basic premise of this classic tale is that these mice switch places, the city one going to the countryside and the country mouse going to the big city. While on their little vacations, each mouse discovers that he is best suited for the environment from which he came, although they do each embrace a bit of adventure along the way.
The rodent-riddled story comes to mind today not because I mouse-ily wish to retreat to my former surroundings, but because as I sit here awaiting the arrival of my milk and eggs and bread, it is the perfect time to ponder the many ways that city life in the DC Metro area is different from the more suburban one I had living in the Treasure Valley.
Being car-less is probably the most overriding change I’ve experienced in our move across the country. Nearly all of the other changes are predicated upon this one omission. Not having a vehicle of our own means:
*Public transportation is the way to roll. In the last six months I have ridden a significant portion of the DC Metro lines. I’ve spent countless hours on the blue line shuttling into the District and back, enjoyed numerous monument-filled crossings of the Potomac on the yellow line and ventured into Maryland several times on the red. Professional sporting events have led me to brave both the green line and the far reaches of the blue, while the lure of tasty food has sent me trekking up the orange line. While possibly a nightmare for the colorblind, the rainbow-hued map of the Metro system has served me well for the last half year.
*Grocery shopping is done online and the bags of food are delivered directly to my front door. There is no more squeaky, wiggle-wheeled cart to push up and down the aisles of my nearby Albertson’s store, no more Sunday night runs to get sandwich fixings for the upcoming school week and no more dropping by the store on the way home from work to get a forgotten ingredient or two for that night’s dinner. Online grocery shopping may take a bit more planning, but it also means I can take care of my grocery list make-up-less and in my pajamas. (Okay, to be fair, if you grocery shop at Walmart, there are many a customer there who are shopping in a state that makes them appear as if they just rolled out of bed, but I can do so with dignity in the privacy of my own little home!!) Not only is shopping done in the cozy comfort of the mo-partment, but the scheduled delivery means that Thad’s copious amounts of Diet Mountain Dew magically appear at my door without me having to haul them myself.
*Our knowledge of local car rental companies is quickly expanding. Without a car, but living in a place where there are no less than a million historical sites to be visited, long weekends require personal transportation. Since we are on the east coast for a limited amount of time, we try to take advantage of every opportunity to visit the parks and monuments in the area. This means that the Enterprise and Hertz websites and I have become very comfortable with one another. I can reserve the best deal, with discounts added, in a matter of minutes without having the search endlessly for just the right ride. Thad has become buddies with the manager of one nearby rental company, always stopping to chat with him before embarking on the circle of safety required before the car keys are handed over.
The transition from Idaho life to Virginia life isn’t nearly as dramatic as the ones faced by the country mouse and the city mouse, but the idea that such a change requires a one to develop a different set of coping skills still holds true. In Idaho, I probably would have scoffed at someone telling me that they had their groceries delivered, but living on the ninth floor of an apartment building without access to a car, such a proposition suddenly makes a bit more sense.
I can only imagine what this American mouse will be blogging about in six more months when Chinese mouse’s world becomes her own!