A couple of weeks ago, our Land Rover was out of commission for about a week. We stayed close to home and took taxis when we needed to go somewhere further afield. One day, after Rusty had walked to the store in the rain to pick up a few things he needed, I asked him if it made him nostalgic for the good ol’ days of not having a vehicle. He actually rolled his eyes at me, so I guess the answer is no, but it got me to thinking on the two times in our married life where we have been completely wheel-less.
The first time was right after we moved to Japan as newlyweds. We didn’t buy our car until we had lived there six months. We took buses occasionally and rode the train, but our primary means of transportation was our bikes! We rode them to school and home each day, to church, to the Soken (Board of Education) office every Friday for our AET meetings, to the grocery store, to friends’ houses for dinner, to the park and Lake Senba, all over Mito really.
Of course, it’s easy to romanticize it now, to remember being out in nature — the fields of wild-flowers, the plum blossoms, the leaves ablaze with autumn colors — the feel of the wind in my face, how fit I was just from riding my bike everywhere (hello, toned calves!). But it was also so cold in the winter that I actually got frostbite on my toes and so hot in the summer that I was drenched in sweat after my 5-minute bike ride to school in the morning. Riding a bike in the pouring rain with a basket full of groceries is just not fun. And then there was the time I almost got hit by a car.
After we bought our car, we both felt as though our world had opened up. We could go more places, do more things. We weren’t bound by how far we could reasonably go on a bike or by train schedules and bus routes. We experienced a new-found sense of freedom. The world was ours for the exploring.
I continued to ride my bike to school and back each day since my school was only a 5-minute ride from our house. Rusty started using the car for his commute. I may or may not have occasionally begged him to drop me off at school when it was cold or raining. It was nice to have that option, but I actually found that I really enjoyed my daily ride. Since we left Japan, there have been times when I really miss just hopping on my bike and pedaling down the road, feeling the wind in my face as I ride and the rush of endorphins afterwards.
Part 2 coming tomorrow.