Every Monday and Wednesday morning, Minnow and I cross the Throgs Neck Bridge from Long Island to Westchester so that she can continue to attend her 2's program in Bronxville. With the recent toll hikes, the trip costs us $7.50 each way, and takes an hour and fifteen minutes during rush hour and another forty-five minutes on the way home. I probably need my head examined to spend two hours in the Jeep twice a week so that my two-year-old can spend about the same amount of time painting pinecones and singing songs about dinosaurs, but I’m trying to be a good mom. I’m trying to maintain a modicum of normalcy in Minnow’s world while the rest of it is being tipped on its axis. On the days we travel to Bronxville, I also take Minnow to her favorite playground after school and sometimes- as a treat- to her favorite bagel store for a mini whole-wheat bagel.
Long, congested commutes to school are not new to me. When I attended law school in North Philadelphia, I lived 7.5 miles away in a leafy Main Line suburb. According to Map Quest, the trip should take approximately 17 minutes, but traveling on I-76 or Route 1 to Broad Street takes closer to an hour during rush hour. My drive to school only added to the unrelenting misery of being a law student. Nothing- besides the Socratic method- could raise my blood pressure quite like nonsensically slow-moving traffic, especially around the Conshohocken Curve. (It’s there every morning, folks. Learn to navigate it.) I was notoriously late for class, often sauntering in red-faced after the professor had already begun interrogating unlucky punctual classmates.
What got me through those harrowing daily voyages was listening to public radio. It’s how I became acquainted with the likes of My Morning Jacket, Ray LaMontagne, and Vampire Weekend. I was such a devoted listener that, despite my lack of income, I became a supporting member of the station for three consecutive years. When I moved to New York after law school, I took a break from driving and, thus, decent music, but when I relocated to Westchester and bought a Jeep, I rediscovered how much I love public radio. It is thanks to public radio that I’ve added Alabama Shakes, The Head and the Heart, and Josh Ritter to my music rotation.
Minnow and I listen to public radio every morning on our expeditions across the Long Island Sound. This morning we heard the new song by Jim James of My Morning Jacket, and as I reflected on the lyrics, I realized how appropriate it is to our current transition into homeownership:
Babe, open the door
And start your new life,
Oh, your new life.
Babe, on to the shore,
And start your new life,
Your new life, once more.
In a couple short months, I'll only have the memories of our irrational, early-morning trips back and forth to Bronxville. In a couple short years, I'll only have the memories of Minnow in the back seat, kicking her feet and singing along the best she can. ("I sorry, Mommy, I don't know all the words.") But songs like this, and the traffic-cancelling emotions they stir within me, will remain.