Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Commuter's Life


            Back in fifth grade, my parents dropped the massive bombshell that they would be removing me from the public school system. After an episode of high-pitched squealing I eventually acquiesced, and the search began for my new school. Through some rigorous process that I don’t remember, they decided to put me in Park.  
            Things were grooving for me at my new school. By the end of the first quarter, a few kids even knew my name. In general, the transition was relatively smooth. There was, however, one change that took me a while to acclimate to. My elementary school was 1.4 miles from my house; Park is 20. My friends think I live in Virginia. That means my morning commute time had increased by about 1,000% between 5th and 6th grade. And to an impatient middle-schooler, half an hour in the car every morning was torturous. I didn’t even get to sit in the front seat until 8th grade, when my sister graduated—not to mention my father’s questionable taste in Sirius XM stations.
            With maturity, I realized that not all was bad about living so far away. For starters, it meant I had one less thing to do for homework each night; nothing quite wakes you up like math homework at 7:20. There was also the conversation. I learned a lot, through simple osmosis, listening to my dad and sister talk. Occasionally I would even contribute, though only briefly so not to distract from my work.
            When I finally got my license last year, I expected the commute to be just like years past, except with me in the driver’s seat. But it got better, a lot better. One of the most gratifying perks of driving by yourself is the undisputed right to crank your music as loud as your ears desire. It’s by far the most underrated aspect of being licensed. Essentially I have a 30-minute party on my way to school each day, which is awesome. This is gonna sound stupid, but it gets me hyped for school. Thumping bass is my cure for sleeplessness.
            The music is good. It’s not the best part about the commute, though. I put this bit together long after it started affecting me, and it’s only become more obvious since. For my particular circumstances, the physical distance between my house and my school has seemed to have a direct correspondence with how involved my parents are in my school life. It sort of makes sense, logically thinking about proximity. Since they hardly even visit my school these days, why would they be thinking about it? I would almost describe it as having two lives. And only recently has my school life begun to spill into my home life, with friends finally agreeing to make the journey. It has given me a little dose of adulthood. Some of my friends who live close to school have parents that are not only invasive and prying, but even show up on campus every so often for the hell of it. Living 20 miles away almost assures that your parents won’t be meddling all the time. Despite rising gas prices, if given the opportunity to move closer to Park, I wouldn’t take it.