So effective late August, it appears I’ll be making the commute to work in Ann Arbor from Ferndale, 5 days a week. (Well, probably from Ferndale — there’s a remote possibility we’ll stay in Detroit — but that’s a topic for another post.) With the exception of the last time I lived in Ferndale, for a couple of months in 2007, I’ve never had a commute of more than a couple of miles and for most of my working life I’ve walked, biked or taken the bus. It’s something I’ve prided myself on, low carbon footprint, etc. I always secretly looked askance at my colleagues who commuted from far away — why didn’t everybody just pick up and move down the street from where they worked like I did?
Hence this lifestyle change has generated some major cognitive dissonance for me. I already commute to & from work from AMD’s* place in Detroit from time to time and have got the routine down pretty well. In the morning, I get on the road when it’s still dark, turn on Morning Edition, savor the coffee in my travel mug, and on clear days I get to enjoy the sunrise. The afternoon is not as pretty, but I have the choice of All Things Considered on 2 different stations (Michigan Radio and WDET) to help me power through, and an excited welcome home from 2 Cairn terriers (and a more low-key kiss from AMD) to look forward to at the journey’s end.
So it’s not that it’s an unpleasant commute; far from it. It just feels wrong. Going back at least as far as Sex and the City, my generation has been trained by mass culture that young. childless people get to work by the subway or a similarly urbane method; that hippies, health nuts, and the environmentally conscientious get there by bike; and that a commute by car is reserved for old people with kids and responsibilities. I’m going to be one of those old people with responsibilities, alone in my car for 90 minutes-plus each day, stuck in traffic, and it’s freaking me out.