Living the simple life

“A department store across the river is having a close out sale. Let’s go,” my daughter-in-love said.
I grabbed my billfold and reached for the car keys.
“We’ll walk. It’s only a couple of blocks to the ferry and a few blocks downtown from there.”
I drive to town for sales, but my petite daughter-in-love doesn’t. A year ago, she and my son were overwhelmed with college and wedding bills. My son, who has biked to work in downtown New Orleans since he was a college sophomore, had the perfect solution: n car, no car insurance, no maintenance or gas eating up their monthly income. They sold their car and began walking, riding public transportation or bikes to get around the city. They year, they are physically and financially fit. With a majority of their bills paid off, they are making serious plans for a home of their own and reconsidering owning a car.
I drive. They walk. When in Rome, do as the Romans. I pulled out my walking shoes. The sun toasted our heads as we dashed down the street to the ferry. Cars rushed by to catch the ferry before it left again for another half hour.
As I looked at the cars wistfully, I slowed down. “Hurry, hurry, hurry. We only have a couple minutes before the ferry leaves.
I gasped for breath. My eyes glazed as I stared down a long brick street, up the forever ramp to the waiting room connected by a glass tunnel to the ferry. Every muscle told me I was not physically fit. Each one reminded me that years ago, when my now car-less son was a child, I pulled a wagon filled with children and books every week to the village library. Moving to suburbia deleted walking and merged me with the car.
I welcomed the reprieve of the ferry ride. All too son, it bumped into the city shore where hot city streets reminded me I was walking to this sale.
Some passengers found their way to the air conditioned city aquarium. Others checked out the plethora of camera and gift shops. Fast food places beckoned with cool drinks for everyone but us. We were going to the department store sale.
I told myself I needed the exercise. I did not believe a word of it.
I felt hip bones drilling into hip sockets. My face glowed from heat and exercise during my long walk to the department store. The sale was a shop till you drop: we’re closing the doors forever sale. I may have been dropping from exhaustion, but I shopped.
I kept one thing in mind: every purchase I made was one more thing to carry over hot city streets to the ferry and across the river to my son’s house. Before I bought anything I mentally weighed it.I didn’t buy a lot.
Afterward, our college junior, also biking for transportation, said a friend had emphatically told him it was impossible to go to college without a car and at least $12,000 a year for living expense. “I’ve done without either,” he reflected. Living simpler can be done. It’s just my aching feet that don’t.