There’s nothing original about becoming introspective this time of year. For about a week, we’re all prepared to scale mountains of personal truth and finally obey the Nietzschean dictate to become who we are. In the restraint and relative sobriety that follow in the wake of holiday bacchanalia, we’re ready—yep, really ready this time—to become vegans, yogis, patient and attentive partners, and speakers of conversant French. We’re ready to embrace the nonsmoking, trans-fat-avoiding teetotaler inside of us who wakes before dawn, always takes the stairs, and does not know anything about the lives of Bravo’s real housewives. But after a few days—or in some cases, hours—we inevitably tumble down the mountain of personal truth into the valley of daily reality, becoming, once again, the same person we’ve always been.
But this year—I dare say, fingers crossed—things are different. Not because I willed them so, but because I didn’t really have a choice.
When my boyfriend and I broke up right before Thanksgiving, I became carless for the first time since getting my license at 16. It’s not an exaggeration to say that for one, horrifying moment, I felt like my world had collapsed, its borders now defined in blocks rather than miles. How would I get groceries? In my last hours with the car, I went to the store and stocked up on nonperishable goods like some sort of crazed survivalist. How would I get home from work? How would I get my hair cut? How would I get to spin class so I could enclose myself in a tiny, sweltering room and ride a stationary bike next to mouth-breathing strangers while terrible dance music played at deafening levels?