Friday, May 19, 2006

Freedom from choice

Two weeks home and I'm back in the groove. Except for Robert, I have a full house again and all the extra work that comes with it. Since my mother left for her home to prepare for her move here, I have slacked off work at the office for work at my house. The spring clean, remember? House and yard are more appealing again making it harder to leave. I've readjusted to home but I will be happy to return to Loreto for one simple reason: It's the only way I'm going to escape my renewed dependence on my car.

I'm with the herd again, dodging and speeding and stopping and turn-signaling and merging and parking and stopping to refuel at $2.60 a gallon. It's not the yardwork that has exhausted me, it's the motoring. There's a lot of ground to cover in the pursuit of errands. How interesting would it be to see an aerial time lapse movie of my movements in my car. It would look like the crazy scribbles of a madwoman. Some days I'm sure I make 20 or more different trips chasing after something.

The drive from Loreto Bay to the town of Loreto takes about 5 minutes. I can park anywhere and be within walking distance to anything. It's that small. Now there's a down-side to this: A small town means less available goods and services. There's just not much available to buy. And forget internet shopping--mail service is rumored to be unreliable or absent altogether (I haven't explored this yet.) Add that to the inconvenience of a two or three hour break in the afternoon when practically every shop and office takes a siesta, and Loreto is down-right backward.

Many people would find this undesirable, but I hope those folks just mosey along because they are seriously missing the point. It's the simplicity, stupid. Here's the secret formula: Less choices, less effort expended. Easy, huh? I know, it's un-American but a little freedom from choice feels good occasionally. It takes energy to make consumer decisions. Have you tried buying toothpaste lately? You could expire before reaching a decision between minty fresh liquid gel plus mouthwash tartar-control whitening flouride anti-cavity; and, luminous enamel strengthening crystal-clean mint with a stay-clean cap.

Of course my hypocrisy in this argument is that I return to Loreto with a suitcase full of provisions. I carry back with me one of the above-mentioned toothpastes along with a dozen other "necessities." Still it's a far cry from having everything at my fingertips, or rather, within my car's reach, in the case for the Metro area my town borders. But it remains that the thing I like most about a car society (ability to get around) is the thing that causes me great stress and disconnect. We're all trying to get around at the same time. If everybody would just get out of my way I could get there faster thus return home quicker to enjoy my life.

It's too hard to keep it simple here. I don't have the discipline. Maybe I'd plan better if I knew I had only one opportunity a day for car-time. No going back later for milk or dry-cleaning. If I want to shop at Sam's Club I should do it on a day I go to work, and might as well plan a trip to the dentist same day too since it's on the way. That would take planning. It seems easier to go 2500 miles back to the small world of Loreto where the choices are fewer.

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