For the first three years of college, I lived in the neighborhood where I worked and learned. Near my many different abodes, there were movie theaters, cheap restaurants, grocery stores, book stores, and a zillion buslines--everything a girl could want. It was for the taking if you just stepped outside and took it. You didn't worry about parking, gas money, or missing the hourly bus home. You just went and came back when you were ready, and if you still needed to go out later, it was easy as pie.
Your comsumer decisions were driven not by what store was easiest to park at. Parking didn't even enter into the equation.
But eventually, you move away from this hub of activity. You can still do a few things by walking--a hardware store, decent video rentals, Chinese restaurant, and 7-11 aren't too far. There's a busline to campus and downtown that works all right, albeit nowhere near as frequent service as that you were accustomed to in your old neighborhood. You have to start planning differently.
No more stopping by Bulldog News after class to browse the new magazines. You have to plan a trip to the University District that allows for that stop, either by bus or by car. And if by car, you have to figure out when you can go, park, and still visit the shops you want. Usually, though, it's just for Thai food.
You don't want to go to your favorite grocery store as much because the thought of parking there terrifies you.
You start shopping places that have a better parking situation. You start choosing businesses not for the quality of the shop or its services themselves, but for their ability to accomodate your newfound "convenience" in the form of a fossil-fuel-munching Honda Civic. Suddenly, what was a bastion of convenience--stores and restaurants you loved lining the block--is now a mess of frustration. Pay for parking? Fight for a spot? Shriek at traffic? It all detracts from the once-peaceful experience of simply shopping your way down the block, because instead of making your way home at a leisurely pace, you have to rush it, either to beat the meter or catch a bus.
I used to joke about embracing my inevitable yuppiedom in the form of eating silly hippie foods and whatnot, but I am beginning to know what it really means: choosing Barnes and Noble over the Ave based on parking availability.
As if that weren't soul-crushing enough for this self-proclaimed champion of independent business, it's pathetically environmentally unfriendly. It makes me feel like a dirty whore.
Maybe this will change, at least a little, once I start work and school again. I have my bus pass again and I'll have good reason to bus to the old 'hood almost daily. I can run my errands between classes and catch the regular bus home. It'll work out okay.
I just have to figure out a better way. I can't believe I bought shit at Barnes and Noble. It goes against everything I believe in. Or something.