Learning to Live Without a Car

by Lorien E. Menhennett

Knowing that cell phone service is less than certain amid skyscrapers, not to mention the threat of my battery dying, I thought buying maps would be prudent. These Streetwise maps, which are laminated, got great reviews on Amazon.com. One covers Manhattan, one covers the multitude of transit options (NYC subway, Long Island Railroad, etc.), and the other exclusively covers the Manhattan subway.

In 2003, just after graduating from college, I bought my first car. I’ve owned one ever since. My car hasn’t been my only means of transportation though – while working at the University of Illinois at Chicago, I commuted on the El (short for “elevated train”), and have often taken the train into the city rather than fight traffic and pay $30 to park. But taking the train or bus to work is different than taking the train or bus to buy groceries, which is what I will be doing while living in Manhattan. The thought is a little nerve-wracking – that there will be no trunk, no back seat, to haul stuff in. No immediate wheels. No straight shot to where I’m headed. Add to that the complexity of the New York City transit system, and it’s overwhelming. I remind myself that I survived taking the bus everywhere (and not having a car) for five months when I lived in Chile during college, and that was in a foreign country where I had to speak a foreign language. So I can certainly do it in New York. Because as foreign as NYC might seem at times, I’m still on home soil. And soon enough, NYC will come to be my home too.

I’m especially excited about the foldable subway map.