Last year, I turned in my lease car and decided not to get another car. I had been averaging 4,000 miles a year and enjoyed getting behind the wheel of a car less and less. I remember hearing stories of children having to take away cars from their aging parents, but instead of taking away my freedom, I felt like this was giving me more freedom.
Tad said, “If you don’t like it, we will just get you another car.” Without feeling like I was making a decision that would restrict my liberty forever, I wholeheartedly agreed. With savings on the monthly car payment, insurance payment and upkeep, I felt there was nothing to lose. But was that true?
What I Iove about not having a car is that my husband and I do more trips together, which gives us a chance to connect more.
In 2020, I started a notebook to collect stories and information to pass on to Aiden, Mary and Stefen, so driving around together gives me a chance to hear more about Tad’s life.
Now, I didn’t want to be a burden to Tad, so I also decided that if he is ever not in the mood to drive me around, I would just take the one car we have and run errands alone. Or, if it made him too stressed out to get home by a certain time, I would use UBER or LYFT. In the end, it seems like he feels good about taking care of me, but I also feel good about being appreciative of his efforts and also respecting that sometimes he is tired or not in the mood to go out.
And there have been some unexpected moments that have come with not having a car. Last week, I was in a LYFT car and talking with a young lady. Sometimes, I just want to be driven around without any conversation. There are other times that something encourages me to interact with my driver.
In this case, Lorena (not her real name) and I began to talk. She told me a little bit about her life and asked me what I do. I hesitated a moment, deciding how open I would be with her because I know if I say I am a writer, speaker or activist, she will ask more questions. But it was a short ride and I was feeling brave, so I told her I was an author and speaker. Here is how our conversation went:
Lorena: Oh, what do you write about and what do you speak about?
Me: I write and speak about the journey of our family transitioning my son. He is transgender. Do you know what that means?
Lorena: Yes, I do.
Then, there was a slight pause.
Lorena: I am married to a woman. And although my mother has not rejected me, she is not warm to my wife. And that is hurtful.
Me: Have you heard about an organization call PFLAG that supports and educates parents, families and LGBTQ individuals? Perhaps one day you can go to a meeting with your mom and that will help her understand. It really helped me.
As Lorena dropped me off, I gave her my PFLAG business card and begin to get out of her car. She turned around in her seat and gave me a soft look of appreciation, saying, “You have been an angel to me today, Marsha.”
I gave her a tender look of encouragement, thanked her for her words and then she drove off. … Lorena with more hope, and me with warmth in my heart because I risked for the positive, and it turned out just fine.
I have not heard from Lorena yet, but I believe that her knowing there is a mother out in the world who loves her LGBTQ child gives her hope. And if she is losing hope, I believe she will call me or remember PFLAG and find a place to get support wherever she may live.
It has been over three months since I turned in my car. And to be honest, besides saving a lot of money each month, I have gained so much more — more interesting stories that I can add to my notebook about Tad’s life while driving around town with my husband, less stress about finding a parking space and more opportunities for me to talk about support for the LGBTQ community if I choose to do so with LYFT drivers.
The trade-off has been well worth it on many levels. And then I think in the future, my children will never have to stress out about taking my car away! That, too, makes me smile.
Postscript: Sending you and your families thoughts of good health during this challenging time of the coronavirus. I am reading about Asian individuals who are being targeted because of their race, since the coronavirus originated in China, so please be safe. Personally, I was with another LYFT driver and when I sneezed, he turned around and barked, “Are you sick?” For a moment, I felt uneasy until I said it was an allergy, and then he relaxed. It is a time of patience, kindness, generosity and community. . . .
Marsha Aizumi is an advocate in the LGBT community and author of the book “Two Spirits, One Heart: A Mother, Her Transgender Son and Their Journey to Love and Acceptance.”