Tag Archives: Commuting

#20 – Guilt Chronicles Part II

This is what guilt looks like.

I work full time, my roundtrip commute can range an average of two to three hours. I leave work at 3:00pm and usually pick up my daughter by 4:30pm. When we get home she gets a snack, then play time, another snack, reading/practicing the alphabet and numbers and dinner at 6:30pm. Bath time is at 7:30pm and in bed by 8:30pm. This is our routine Monday – Friday. There’s little room for outside activities. Sometimes we go to the park or for a walk but most of the time, playtime is in the yard. On weekends she usually has music class and we try to do fun things that are not on a schedule. Sometimes it’s the aquarium, the Museum of Natural History or pony rides at an equestrian center not far from the house. There’s also the occasional birthday party or a trip to visit my sister or Matt’s dad.

All this to say that because of my work schedule, I never went to a Mommy and Me class or a swimming class with Hudson. I am grateful that I was on maternity leave for seven months even though I’m still catching up financially from the loss of income, it was well worth it.

We are lucky to have friends and family with swimming pools. Hudson loves the water and I feel bad that I haven’t taken her to a weekly swim class. Most of these classes are during the work week and I don’t want to manipulate our weekend with another activity on top of the music class.

I usually take a weekend day to clean the house, do laundry and cook for the week. So to alleviate my guilt, I found a swim class that meets on Friday afternoons at 5:40pm. It’s a private class meaning it’s four times more expensive than the parent/child lessons. We are starting next week. I am not a good swimmer because the only lessons I ever took were as an adult. I don’t want my daughter to miss out on a potentially lifesaving skill because I have to work and can’t take her.

My husband drops Hudson off at daycare in the mornings, or at school as I like to call it. He has a long commute too and gets home around 7:00pm. He is sad to be missing her swim lessons but doesn’t feel guilty about it. He misses out on things that Hudson and I do, like when my boss is traveling and I leave work early, we go to the aquarium or the beach. He hates missing out on things but guilt doesn’t bog him down the way it does for me. I am getting better, it helps when I see how independent, smart, vivacious and loving my daughter is.

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# 11 – a Micro Essay About a Place

I left NY on a freezing Saturday evening in January of 2003.  A few hours later, I landed at the Long Beach Airport in Southern California where the temperature was 79 degrees.

I deplaned onto the tarmac, the smell of burnt wood infused the air. I inhaled deeply savoring its bitter sweetness. The warm breeze enveloped me like a mother greeting her long lost child.

“That’s the Santa Ana Winds” my sister said.

We rode with the top down in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The smoke stacks of Carson behind us resembled dancing ghosts wearing shiny amber necklaces.

“The highways are called freeways here and they are always crowded” she warned.

The never ending break lights ahead of us looked like a glitter explosion on a home made Valentine’s card.

The headlights on the opposite side twinkled brightly, similar to a curtain made of Christmas icicle lights.

A giant American flag loomed in front of a cloud of blue smoke outside one of the refineries.

I turned on the radio, The Doors and the RHCP welcomed me with California anthems.

“I love this place” I said to my sister.

Billboards, car dealerships and fast food restaurants lined the freeway. The Goodyear blimp, illuminated by a spotlight, flew above us. Everything was flat, no skyscrapers in sight. This was my first encounter with the parking lot otherwise known as the 405.

Ten years later I buy a house in Long Beach and commute daily to Westwood, traveling the same roads I did when I first landed here.  Every day I am reminded, without regret and full of gratitude, that I traded crowded subways at rush hour for the privacy of my car on congested freeways.