Sunday, July 03, 2011

Adventures in Carsharing

After much debate, I sold my car. I had been thinking about it for a few years, as I barely drive, but it was somehow reassuring to own a car, just in case. Plus my car -- my shiny blue Volkswagen -- seemed to be a part of my identity. So I kept the car -- for ten years (and only 47,000 miles).

When boyfriend moved in, we found ourselves with a new problem -- two cars and only one parking space. It became a constant cycle of searching for -- and paying for -- parking. Saturday mornings were the worst, since neither of us had to get up for work, but one of us had to get up by 8 to feed the meter, and you know, sometimes you just want to sleep in.

Last weekend, I finally wound up selling my car to a friend of mine who had recently bought a place just beyond the beltway. So this week, I embarked on a new, car-free era. I will walk, take metro, and ride buses. Perhaps I will take cabs in case of emergency. And, to some extent, I can use boyfriend's car -- on mornings when he works and I don't (Sundays and the occasional holiday) if I need the car, I can get up early and drive him to work.

There's also car sharing. Zipcar is in abundance in my neighborhood -- pretty much every street corner has at least one of the orange signs indicating that a zipcar lives there.

Today was my first zipcar experience. When I enrolled, I got a credit that expires at the end of the month, and so, I decided to rent a car as "practice," so that when I really need the car, I won't have to figure out the process -- or worse, figure out that some part of the process doesn't work right. And so, this afternoon, I brought lunch to my boyfriend at work.

The car-sharing process was the easiest thing. (1) Apply for zipcar membership (which took about a week). (2) Reserve car (using internet or iPhone app). (3) Walk to the car (when you reserve, you are told which car and where it is parked). (4) Use your zipcard (or iPhone app) to open the car. (5) Drive. (6) Return car. They even sent me a text message 30 minutes before my reservation ended to remind me to bring the car back because someone had a reservation right after me. And if I needed to put gas in the zipcar, it has its own gas card.

The only downside that I experienced was that, when I went to go make my reservation this morning, I found that of the 20-or so cars parked within a six-block radius, only two were available. I wound up reserving a silver Nissan Sentra named Sinbad, parked about three blocks from my house. (Yes, all the zipcars have names. How quaint.) So the lesson learned was to reserve early, or face the possibility that a car will not be available.

So, car-free week one was a success. On to week two . . . .

Friday, July 01, 2011

Six Months Ago . . .

Just before Thanksgiving, I was sitting in the atrium of the National Building Museum having lunch with a friend of mine from high school. We were discussing our plans for the holidays, when I mentioned that I would probably be spending my New Year's Eve with my best friend from high school, having a party at her house, in Pittsburgh. My friend thought it sounded like fun, and started thinking that if he had nothing better to do, he might join us. And then suggested that we invite a third friend, who didn't live too far away from Pittsburgh.

When I told my best friend, she thought it was a great idea, but cautioned that our third friend would probably not be able to join us. I sent him a message anyway.

Ultimately, that friend did join us, and after a long New Year's weekend of drinking -- and subsequent crazy, random happenstance -- he is now the best boyfriend I've ever had. More than that, really -- he's the best boyfriend I could even imagine. And so, every day since then, I am thankful that I decided to go back out to the living room to check on him. And I am equally thankful that he decided that he wanted to kiss me when I held out my margarita glass for him to refill while saying, "I'm an excellent drinker." Mostly, though, I am so exceptionally thankful that he decided to move here and give this crazy thing a shot.

Happy six month anniversary.