I had to drive to downtown Columbus today for a daylong training at the Ohio Supreme Court building. The session started at 8:30 a.m., so I joined the morning commute south down US 23, then over to Route 315 to the heart of downtown, a distance of about 30 miles each way.
There are people in this town who commute that distance (and more) every single workday.
Me? I work about four blocks away. Sometimes Warren drops me off on the way to his office (about six blocks from our house) and I walk home when I am done. In the summer, I often walk both ways. Only during truancy season (November to April), when I need a car, do I routinely drive to work.
There are others in this part of town who also walk to their downtown jobs regularly.
I ended up sitting with my friend Emma at the training today. At the first break, we talked about how she has now moved her law offices to Delaware even though she still lives in Columbus. As a result, Emma is spending $200 and more a month just for gasoline.
Holy smokes! If I spend more than $50 in any one month for gasoline, that's noteworthy. The last few weeks may be the sole exception: between my family visiting and an out-of-town wedding rehearsal and today's trip to Columbus, I may go over that mark. On the other hand, with summer upon us, I may not gas up again until late August.
25 years ago, I used to commute 90+ miles one way a few days a week. I lived in Stockton, California, in the valley and worked in Berkley. At the time, it seemed perfectly normal. After all, every day there were hundreds of us threading the Altamont Pass and dropping down into the Bay Area. (Now there are thousands on that same stretch.) Looking back, I cannot imagine why that seemed like a good idea, other than the regular paycheck.
Not everyone lives where they can walk to work. Not everyone is capable of walking to work. Today's drive reminded me how grateful I am that I am able in every way to make that bipedal commute.
Besides my gratitude, there were some other noteworthy moments to today's commute. There was the employee wearing the doughnut suit outside the Dunkin' Donuts shop on south 23. (Imagine a giant pink iced doughnut with legs, and you get the picture.) Coming home at day's end, I opted for a slower commute on 315, which winds along the Olentangy River. There was a blue heron poised by a retaining pond, ignoring the cars rolling by. And waiting for the light at 23 North, despite the rumble of nearby highway traffic, I heard the sharp trills of birds piercing the air. I idled there with my windows rolled down, trying to whistle what I heard, listening to them call again and again, summer in their voices.