Monday, October 15, 2007

Does anyone need a parking space in LS1?

This was tagged on the end of yesterday's post, but deserves expanding a bit.
I've owned a car since I was 22, and before that I shared with my sister. At one point I had exclusive use of three cars (my own, my sister's which I was trying to sell, and my mother's, because she had a broken leg and couldn't drive it, then moved to Spain). Every morning I'd have to decide which one I felt like driving before I left the house. Eventually I sold my sister's and my own, and kept my mother's, making that pact that I'd probably keep it until my sister came home and then pass it on to her.
Which is what I did at the weekend. I drove it over to Blackpool, handed over the keys and got the train back home. And, surprisingly, I didn't feel any pangs of loss or regret, and I don't feel like my horizons have been limited, I feel free to explore and discover things.
Even though running or cycling through dark, cold streets on the way to work might not be everyone's idea of fun, I love the things you notice when you're doing it, and the feeling that you're somehow closer to the city. You notice when new shops open on your route, you explore parks you'd otherwise speed past, and you find the hidden corners that are off the beaten path. You don't have that insulating shell of car, tinted windows, air conditioning and radio protecting you from the world outside and stopping it getting in, instead you're part of it.
I'm starting to feel a sense of place, and rootedness, like this is my city rather than simply a city I'm living in for the time being. Maybe some of it is running races with my club name on my vest, and getting cheered on with shouts of "come on Kirkstall", and maybe some of it is that I know the city far better now than when I only ever travelled the same route to work every day, and then back home again. Maybe it's just that I've been here so long now.
I don't feel like I need to travel to far flung places to find something new. Sometimes you can have just as much fun exploring what's on your own doorstep. There are plenty of places in Leeds I've never visited, let alone places I can get to on a metrocard. And if I need to go further afield we have trains, and an airport, and I have the money to hire a car if I need one (the car club's good for short journeys, but for longer periods a hire car will probably work out better). I can hire a car that suits the mood I'm in and what I want to do with it.
So far, it's going smoothly. I got the train back from Blackpool, and I've been using the bus today. Normally I'd cycle, but with Amsterdam days away I don't want to either overdo the exercise or, possibly more importantly, get knocked off the bike by a lorry. I don't need the car during the week, and at the weekend I'll get the bus to the airport and the plane to Amsterdam (I'm clearly not doing this out of concern for my carbon footprint...). I need a car next Thursday to go to a New York fundraiser over in Manchester, so I'll book one. Simple.
But oh, the irony. I got a decision on the promotion/regrading application, and the verdict was good. That's put me in a good mood. After all the indecision about whether it was worth applying, persuading myself to do it at the last minute even if it was just to put a marker down for next year, and then pouncing on every email arriving in my inbox just in case it was a decision, the waiting is over. I'd actually managed to persuade myself that I was good enough to get it (we have some progress on the self-esteem front!), but that I might have jeopardised my chances with my hastily scribbled application, but it turns out that everything was OK after all. It just leaves me wondering what to do with the free parking I'm now entitled to...
(But shh, don't tell anyone, it's only being announced officially later in the month).


Blogger Shauna said...

:) bloody brilliant on the promotion AND your enviromental friendliness, huzzah! :)

10:49 PM  

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