Erin Explores

by Erin Elaine

More inner monologue from my return to The States

Yesterday I drove a car for the first time in over 11 months. Living in Madrid I think I was only a passenger in a car all of three times. I fell into my old patterns immediately, it’s not really something you forget, but some things still caught me off guard.

Driving from Mukilteo to Kenmore (following my brother in another car)…

Dang, gas is expensive!

Where are we right now? Like, what is this area called? Does it even have a name besides “the-general-urban-sprawl-in-a-1-hour-radius-from-Seattle”?

Upon arriving in Kenmore…

Thank god, I made it.

[Proceed to eat tons of food, visit with my awesome extended family, fill up on salmon, and taste a little moonshine.]

Trying to drive from Kenmore to Seattle…

Shit, is this my turn? It says I-5 North but I want I-5 South. Do I turn? Do I not? Oh God oh God this is too much pressure I can’t make decisions this fast how do people do this am I supposed to turn someone please tell me oh my god–  (end up driving past the turn)

Okay, I’ll go a little farther and watch for an I-5 South sign.

No signs. Shit. And now I’m in the world of endless strip malls and stop lights and I swear this road has 14 lanes how am I supposed to make a U-turn?

U-turn accomplished. Score!

Okay, I’ll follow this I-5 North sign… cringe…

5 minutes later with no signs indicating I’ve gone the right way…

Yes! A sign for I-5 South! Yay! Doin’ a little dance in the car!

On I-5 South…

Why is my car vibrating? Why are these roads so bumpy? Ohh, right. We don’t maintain our infrastructure in the US. I remember now. What a lovely ride this will be.

Exiting into downtown Seattle…

Oh dear God so many one-ways! No turns at this intersection. No driving on this street except for certain hours of the day. Buses only in this lane but only certain hours of the day. No turns here. No parking here. Oh dear God how do people do this???

After finding Belltown and parking…

Okay, I hope I’m parked legally. Better inch closer to the curb. Make sure I’m exactly in the middle of this spot. Remove my radio faceplate. Make sure anything remotely interesting is covered with this old towel. Lock the doors. Check the sign again to make sure I can legally park here. I hope my car is still here in the morning…

[Proceed to have an awesome welcome home party with some of my awesome-est friends.]

The next day, going out to brunch…

Okay, my back is facing the rest of the restaurant. I shouldn’t leave my purse hanging on my chair, should I? Might as well be safe.

Driving home on I-5…

What the hell, why is there TRAFFIC at 2PM on a SUNDAY?!?! Is this normal? How do people do this 365 days a year? What is happening? Is this real life?

Okay, I have 2 different exit options for Mukilteo. One will take me down the Speedway, the other will take me down the Boeing Freeway. The Boeing Freeway should be deserted on a Sunday but the Speedway could be a parking lot.

Wow. I never realized how much local knowledge and local experience one needs just to drive. I only knew evening parking was free in Belltown last night because my friend living there told me. And when you’re actively driving around sometimes you have no idea where you are or where the traffic is. Some phones have GPS with traffic info, but it’s still extremely rudimentary and not perfected at all. It’s weird how helpless and info-less I am while driving. In cities in Europe there were always maps on streetcorner signs. And you could just walk down into any Metro stop and use the map to figure out which Line to take, which direction, where to transfer if needed, and where to get off. I could literally be dropped in any large European city with nothing but €1.50 in my pocket, and using a combination of streetmaps, metros, and buses, make my way to any part of that city in a very short amount of time. Wow. I can’t wait to get back to a metro system. I knew I loved Madrid’s metro, but after being back in the states with a year experience of metros, it makes me appreciate metros even more.

Wow, I’ve already used a quarter tank of gas in one 24-hour period. How much money is that? Driving is expensive. And insurance for 3 weeks. And long-term maintenance. Wow. This country really needs mass transit.

One comment on “More inner monologue from my return to The States

  1. elstadl
    August 12, 2013

    I wish we had subways and more commuter trains. I ride the link on occasion but I’m lucky because the only park and ride on the link line is only a few miles from my house. All the other stops have to find street parking. If you live within Seattle the buses aren’t too bad but if you live in an outlying area it sucks getting to and fro. It takes forever.

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This entry was posted on August 12, 2013 by in Culture, Introspection, Spain, Washington and tagged , , , , .

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