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Monday, March 28, 2011

Driving

There are a lot of things I miss about my PVI life (Pre-Vision Loss.) I miss watching the creatures in my yard build their nests and gather food. I miss TV. It's just not the same when you have to sit 4 feet away. I miss reading real books with tiny print and intricate pictures to my nieces and nephews. I miss soccer games, especially when my nephews are playing. I miss using Post-Its. I miss making eye contact with my husband across the room. I miss eye contact period. I miss reading newspapers, coupons, directions, recipes, maps, the small print that no one usually reads, but I almost always do. The list goes on and on. But hands down the thing I miss most of all is driving.
Living over 15 miles from work, it was not uncommon for me to spend an hour and half or more in the car each day. I spent a large portion of my adult life complaining about the time I've spent in a car. I take back every single word. Traffic jams, construction delays, school buses, and the excessive number of traffic lights are all daily occurrences that I feel a sense of nostalgia for. I'd love to be behind the wheel of my (sold) CR-V, windows down, sun roof open, singing off-key to the radio, and driving anywhere. 

Driving is freedom, independence, spontaneity. Especially in suburbs of the Motor City. I do very few things on a regular basis in my own community. My friends and family don't live in my town, so I rarely hang out there. I don't work out nearby. My husband and I rarely even shop in our hometown. Until last June I never thought twice about my habits of driving several miles to accomplish everyday tasks. 

It's all different now. Without access to public transportation a person with a visual impairment loses their sense of independence pretty quickly. At least I have. It's very difficult to adjust to being driven everywhere and relying on other people to assist you in the completion of mundane errands. Even though I know my family and friends are willing to do anything they can to help, I can't get over the inconvenience my lack of mobility causes. Regardless of what they say, I know that everybody could find something more productive to do than spending the day chauffeuring me around. Additionally, relying on others for transportation is a complicated process. There are schedules to align, nap times to navigate, and traffic patterns to consider. The amount of planning required to take a simple trip to the Y or Library just doesn't seem worth the effort. So I stick to the essential trips. Grocery store. Pharmacy. Doctor's appointments. Everything else can wait until I have a system of travel that only affects me and Emy.

Spending the last month in Kalamazoo, I've really enjoyed the freedom I feel here. The city is very easy to navigate and has public transportation options galore.  It still requires more planning than hopping in the car used to, but it's completely worth the extra effort. To go wander around the library, or get coffee during a free hour are simple pleasures that I relish. Being in control of where I go and how I get there is so liberating the only thing I regularly still miss about driving is singing on the bus or train is frowned upon. There are certainly those who despite this choose to partake, but I'll save everyone the embarrassment by saving my off-key voice for the shower. 

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