I can't even begin to imagine what it's like to be homeless.
As I spend more and more time walking around the city instead of driving a car, I'm getting a more intimate look at how we're all living together. Some of us live in cozy apartments or condos. Some urbanites are lucky enough to have a single family building to call their own.
Some of us sleep under bridges or on bus benches.
I took a brief walk from the office to grab lunch at the Taco Bell at Highland and McMillan (aside: I had no idea how delicious and healthy the Fresco menu is). I climbed the steps up to the early 1930s, Art Deco bridge spanning Reading Road, walked in the door and got my food.
Didn't think for a second about the expense of my bill or how I was going to pay for it.
As I walked out the door, I saw a man who was bundled up and perched beside a bag of belongings. He didn't look like a college student or neighbor grabbing a quick lunch. He looked like a man trying to find a warm place where he could sip on a drink and take a break from life outside.
I walked across the bridge and found another man who'd settled in to a sunny spot on the steps leading down to Reading. He, too, toted along a bag with a motley collection of possessions.
I felt like crap as I walked by and said hello, my to-go lunch in a plastic bag dangling from my hand.
If I had more time and more cash in my change purse, I would have given him that lunch. The four bucks I spent on my fresco chicken burrito and a soft taco was but a tiny fraction of the money deposited into my paycheck today.
I felt really rotten as I walked by the gentleman on the stairs, arranging his belongings and passing time.
Being car-free, I have noticed a significant change in myself. Bus rides are times spent with humanity - people from all walks of life traveling in different directions. I am proactively choosing to greet people, exchange chit chat with them and otherwise have exchanges with strangers I might have previously disregarded.
It's quite a different speed from riding in a European bubble with heated seats.
Some of us walk for food in the sense that we walk to a hot dining spot with white tablecloths or a storefront with a quick take-out lunch.
Today I remembered that some of us are walking far greater distances, literally and figuratively, to get food.
Ditching my car has brought me closer to our community. It's reminded me of my blessings and of the many people surviving with different challenges than my own.
Right now I'm just walking and thinking about things. Hopefully the path ahead includes some more substantial action on my part.
Because we're all walking this journey together, really.
Car Free In The Queen City by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.