One of the ways that I am not very Middle is that I do not own, and never have owned, a car. I do hold a driver’s license, and I drive regularly—rentals, car sharing, and friend’s vehicles, etc. I like to drive about once a month or so to keep my skills up. In the years before car sharing was introduced in the United States, I did go through a few stretches of 3-6 months without driving and I really felt that I forgot a lot going that long with no time behind the wheel.
A benefit of the “car light” lifestyle, is that when I do drive, I get to drive different vehicles, and I can often choose a vehicle that is appropriate to my travel. Moving a piece of furniture? Get a Scion or a Pickup. Do 100 mile round trip? Grab a Prius. Tooling around town running errands on a nice day? Take a convertible. I’ve driven cars by most of the major manufacturers in the U.S. market and even some of the niche makers, like Mini and Hyundai.
However, most of the time I am hoofing it, cruising on Bella or one of the other bikes, or riding mass transit with the masses. 🙂 Every time there is some kind of ginormous snowstorm or big monsoon and the freeways are a nightmare, I always do a secret smug dance when I get where I need to do in the usual time and the “I live in a gorgeous 5000 square foot home in Frankly Fake surrounded by horse farms and commute from four counties over aren’t you jealous” crowd is camping out on the freeway overnight.
So, as much as I can be as critical of Metro as the next rider, in my mind, it is the only way to go. And so, on Sunday morning, 8am, I was on the train, headed to the urban fringe to meet up with a friend, WonderTwin, to go hiking. I’m not really a morning person, generally, so that I was feeling kinda crappy when I got up at 6am was par for the course . . . . Until, I’m on the train, swaying and rocking and lurching and heaving back and forth back and forth back and forth and stopping and starting and stopping and . . . .
I’ve been motion sick about five times in my life. Once in the back of a two door sports car on a twisting mountain road, once or twice on ships in high waves and a few times when the lines were short at the fun park and I did, like, ten rides in an hour. (Sometimes I’m not that bright.) So, I couldn’t possibly get sick on a subway train. I ride the DC subway at least five days a week and I’ve never felt sick; I’ve never felt sick on rail at all in my life. The nausea passed after about six stops and I felt OK. For six more stops. Too bad I was going 12 more stops. I figured once I got to where I was going, I could chill in my friend’s car until I got to the trail head and would be fine. I figured I could make it to my stop. And maybe I would need to use the bathroom at East Falls Church. Or maybe I should get off at the next stop and hug that white wishing well. Or maybe I should have gotten off at Courthouse.
That’s right, somewhere between Clarendon and Ballston on car 1241, I tossed my cookies, in public, for the first time since 2nd grade. That was right after gym class. I’d told the gym teacher I wasn’t feeling well but he said I had to have a note to not participate, so I did and I sucked at kickball and threw up in the hallway right after class. It was standardized testing week and I missed 4.5 days of testing, so when I came back I had to spend a whole nother week in a windowless room doing standardized test make up and I think my classmates thought I died. (I was such a Hermione Granger, I was actually bummed about missing standardized test week.)
The good news was I felt better. A nice, nonjudgmental lady nearby handed me a travel pack of kleenex and said, “crap always happens to me, too.” I get off the train and there are tons of Metro staff around to redirect passengers around the track closure. I tell one of them that I vomited in the car. He checks it out and is like, “eh, it doesn’t really smell,” and turns around and goes back to directing passengers on the platform. (And people complain about standing on MetroRail?)
I find WonderTwin, and I’m like, “Uh, I don’t think I’m hiking today.” Fortunately, I had a change of clothes with me for post-hike comfort, so I was able to change into a vomit-free outfit in the East Falls Church customer bathroom. (Clean, yes. Paper, yes. Soap, no.) WonderTwin drove me home with the pukey stuff in the back, and I then spent the day at home feeling sorry for myself. Until I found out that a friend was assaulted this morning (no injuries, fortunately).
So, sometimes even when you think you’re the Saddest Sack on the Planet, you’re more in the Middle than you realized.