‘Sorry We Can’t Make It, I Don’t Have a Car’

I will never forget my first trip to Boston, years before I ever even thought I would leave NYC. Yet there I was at the end of the E line — Heath Street — in the mid-2000s. It was late, and I heard the locks click behind us as the bar closed for the night. As I walked to the Green Line station just ahead, my friends quickly told told me it was closed. It was after midnight.

Closed? At midnight? As a native New Yorker this concept was foreign to me (and, to be honest, I still don’t understand it). But it was only upon moving to Boston — and having a kid — that I realized the impact of “needing” a car. 

There are so many amazing things to do in and around Boston, and it is more than possible to get by without a car. If the T won’t take you, try a bus, a walk, or the commuter rail. Got your sights set far beyond Boston? Try Amtrak or even a boat! There are ways to be found. 

But as a parent? Well, getting around without a car and with a child is something else.

I was always one to sprint down a T platform, run for the bus (even in heels), and walk for miles — when I was solo. But now, pushing a stroller and working the ins and outs of the T and bus stations, one feels fortunate to find one with working elevators and accommodations. The reality of scheduling and planning that goes into an outing — let alone the commute itself — has taken on a different meaning and toll. Much more meaning when you recognize this is life for many who rely on these systems full time in every capacity.

And outings outside of the city? Well, the farms aren’t exactly within a stone’s throw. Or what about our many friends who move to the suburbs? The reality of visits with them includes coordinating carseats and carpooling.

Our world has grown smaller still with the winters. As we wait in the cold at the bus stop, wondering when the bus will arrive, I debate what will melt down first — the snow, or my toddler?

But, there is always a silver lining. One plus side of staying put is creativity. Dance parties and lots of cooking. Exploring what’s in our neighborhood and learning to get outdoors no matter what. Finding joy in simply running in an empty soccer field. Regular visits to our local park. Watching the wind on the river or the trains passing by. And, if all else fails, we always have bubbles on deck.

Plus, we’ve been the benefactors of great kindness from friends. So much gratitude to all my mom friends (and more) along the way. Those who have shown up and driven round trip to make sure we make it to Halloween events outside the city. Who have held my toddler as I loaded and fit her car seat into their car so our kids can enjoy the farm together. To the moms who have said, “I’ll pick you up at the train station.” Or who simply said, “Don’t even worry about it. We’ll come to you.”

The reality is, I hope to have a car soon. Although I’m not ready to take on the debt that comes along with it — the parking, the insurance, the gas, the taxes, so on and so forth. A payment, a liability, and a depreciation as soon as you’ve made the purchase. But my, oh my, the freedom! The privilege to move on one’s own time — trips unplanned and adventures that await.

Oh the memories we would make. We will make. But until then, you’ll find us living the car-free life of an city family — and we’re making the most of it.

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Amber has lived in the Boston area (currently Cambridge) for double digits now. In previous years she spent her time commuting for auditions and SAG-AFTRA work between New York City and Boston. As of May 2020, she is mom to her daughter, with her long-time boyfriend, and their crazy and cuddly cats — a brother-sister duo named Helios and Selene, respectively. Constantly on the lookout for "ways to elevate her every day," and yours, too, she recently completed her yoga teacher training as she finds it important to find and create movement every day. Which is easy enough, with her love for and household full of music, from Biggie to Beethoven to Billie Holiday and beyond. Always keeping an eye out for creative adventures in and around New England, Amber will jump at any chance to visit the local farms to visit the goats and simply be outdoors. Otherwise, she's often found by the window, calligraphy pen in hand, practicing her favorite craft. After enjoying a hiatus from the restaurant and hospitality industry while being a SAHM mom, Amber is currently working — and learning — in the world of tech. Amber will always hype: brunch and simply ALL food, dancing — the sillier the better, travel and any chance to be at the beach. You can miss her with: cold wet weather (even though she was born in January?!) and horror movies. Look for more thoughts and musings from Amber at www.AmberMichele.com.

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