Commentary on a commute


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The infamous Breezewood Pennslyvania from a different angle. Resembles much of Greensboro.

My commute to school is my favorite part of my day. It’s a 10 to 20 minute near-straight shot from my house to campus. It passes through a good cross-section of Greensboro, from the residential area I live in, through hills populated by the occasional apartment complex or small church, to the commercial strip full of popular places to eat or shop that hide less frequented spots like a Potemkin village.

It’s deeply relaxing to put on some Childish Gambino or Stromae and to be able to forget, for the briefest of moments, where I’m driving to or from. On these commutes, I can just be.

For the longest time, I lived around 45 minutes from Guilford. Before I fully matriculated, my parents made a conscious decision to move a fair bit closer to the campus. They figured that with me getting my permit and a college schedule, it would be best if we lived close enough for them to be comfortable with me driving myself to school.

I’m grateful they made that choice every time I start my car. Before the move, if I wanted to drive myself to class, it would have been a long trek on barren highways both ways. I would have had to build my schedule around driving. Now, getting to and from school is the last thing on my mind each day because I know the roads like the back of my hand, and the journey is short and pleasurable.

I’ve started to pay more attention to what I see on the road beyond just the other vehicles, primarily because this is my last year before leaving home to go to school elsewhere, and (fingers crossed) I’ll end up going to a school that’s navigable without cars. The realization that I could probably count down the number of commutes I have left has made me more cognizant of each trip.

Looking out on the side of the road on my drive to school, I see a lot. The huge, unused parking lots. The locked-in green space that really just amounts to grass growing on the banks of what looks to be a sewage outlet. The buses or AccessGSO vans that I encounter so sporadically that I question their efficacy.

For the longest time, I didn’t think about all that I saw. Part of this was a disconnect with the community I was driving through. Up until two or three years ago, I was a suburbanite who rarely looked out the car windows. Even when I started driving, college applications weighed on my mind. All of that time spent attempting to picture myself in another community, in another city, taking another commute meant that I didn’t picture myself in the community I was now cruising through.

However, now that the stress of application season is behind me – replaced by the much less domineering but more dreadful stress of scholarship application season – I have the space to think more about what I see outside my car windows, about the choices that created the sprawl I drive through and about how the choices we make continue to contribute to it.