02 August, 2010

The Joy of Commuting

For the past week I have been one of the many, the proud, the sweaty... a commuter!

Each morning I enjoy a cool (kind of) walk to the bus station to start my day. From the bus I move to the metro, where I join hundreds, if not thousands, of other Virginians making their way into DC. A quick and crowded metro ride ends with a wonderful walk across the Key bridge, a frozen coffee, and then I disappear behind the screen of the laptop. I am loving it.

Since moving to this part of Virginia, I have had a wonderful commute, by foot. My home is just a mile from my office. It is an easy commute. The last time I really commuted was when I lived in Europe over 15 years ago.

15 years… that is so hard to believe!

Although people drive in Europe, it is not what it is in the States. Using public transportation is as a part of their lifestyle as walking, fresh produce, and everything closed during the month of August. It just is what it is. When I lived there, I blended in and joined the masses – and the commutes were about an hour both ways. I didn’t think twice about it; I grew to love it.

I didn’t think twice about this period of commuting either. Sure, I can work remotely and commute into DC for a bit. No worries!

That was before I experienced carrying a laptop (and other stuff) for over an hour! I don’t know how people do it daily as this laptop is heavy – it is quite old so maybe the newer versions are much lighter?

Beyond the weight of the laptop… I am loving commuting again. There is an energy about it that is not part of my every day life.

I know people who do not like to commute via public transportation, many preferring the freedom of their own car even though it means longer amounts of time and dealing with traffic. I know others that just don’t like taking public transportation as if it is beneath them or something.

Between the bus and the metro – and walking the streets to my temporary office – I am connected to life in a way that I am usually not. The metro is a microcosm of society – everyone is represented in the metro system. Professionals, students, tourists – diverse socioeconomic backgrounds - languages and cultures represented from around the world.

In a few weeks I will return to my office job and my mile commute. My pace will slow to what it once was. Rather than walking to and from work across a bridge and noting the changes that are always occurring in the water and on its shores; I will walk to work down the road noting how the construction has progressed. My office will no longer be within easy access of smoothies and people coming and going; rather, I will be in my solo office doing what needs to get done with NPR as background noise.

I love my office and my short commute; however, there is something about my brief return to the commuting world that delights me and lightens my step (despite that heavy laptop). It is the energy, the diversity, and the connectedness. In my office, I am in the familiar where working remotely I am in the unknown, which I find exciting.

Oh, and it is that river and that bridge and the way the city seems to welcome those who walk across.


Belinda Munoz + The Halfway Point said...

Hi TE, I go to Washington, DC sometimes for work and I admit to loving the energy there. Walking seems to be the best way to get around (cabs are always restricted from ever-chaging zones) which is a nice change of pace to my office life. New York has a similar vibe with a more artsy, less political feel. The novelty of being on foot all the time and sightseeing alogn the way -- what a great way to feel alive and one with many.

Patty - Why Not Start Now? said...

Hi M! Love this. It reminds me of when I lived in NYC for a few years, without a car. Public transportation and hoofing it were basically our only means of transportation. (Too poor for cabs.) You're so right about the energy and connection. I have a quick commute by car now, about 10 minutes, or a few seconds if I'm working in my home office. But it is kind of isolating. Getting out there with the masses is exhilarating, and I hope that the next place I live has great public transportation and an exceptional walkscore.

Lad Litter said...

I've been commuting into the city via public transport for two years now and the novelty hasn't worn off. I was expecting it to be a bit dog-eat-dog on Melbourne's crowded system but peak hour travelers are invariably polite and courteous. Those few days where I drive give some variety. Nice to mix it up a bit, isn't it?