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Routine Maintenance

Eight days in America. It's been a perfectly perfect trip but I think I'm ready to go back to London.

"So England really feels like home now?" a friend asked this week.

I don't know that it's England per se, but yes, when I think of "home" the mental picture that flashes on the movie screen of my mind is B2's high-ceilinged pale-yellow living room, filled with light and books (and maybe a Wii in the none-too-distant future). It's where my routines are, and my bed is, and where the sometimes-annoying but mostly-cuddly MD cats are.

There's something to stitch on a sampler: "Home is where the routines are."

Speaking of, I was struck this week (ouch!) by something that used to be a routine for me and still is for millions of people. Something that I've fallen out of favor with.

No, not watching Katie Couric.

I'm thinking about driving, or for that matter, spending inordinate amounts of time in a car.

I rented a car in Cincinnati. It's always good to be mobile and I didn't want to be a burden on people's busy lives. Nothing more annoying than "can you come get me?" Things are fairly scattered in suburban Ohio and there's not much in the way of public transportation.

So I drove. A half-hour here. An hour there. Twenty minutes to the store. Another forty-five to run Mom out to the mall, and then she wanted a ride home too. I bet that I spent upwards of 2-3 hours a day driving the car, with additional time spent in the passenger seat. That's half a novel I could have read. A film I could have watched. A chapter (or at least several pages of drivel) I could have written. A nice nap I missed out on.

I asked the ever-wisening sister about it. She said he often spends at least that much time in her 4-wheeled coccoon. When she's not playing taxi driver for kids or clients (in the real estate biz, she is), she says it's a good time to catch up on books-on-tape or sometimes to just have quiet time for herself.

That's all well and good, but these days I'd prefer to take a nice long walk.

This was not always the case. I remember turning 16 and being so excited to finally get to drive. I'd grown up. I had wheels. I had independence. Sure, I'd love to drive to Kroger's to get more milk! I could go where ever I wanted. And I adored my cars when I had them. Well, except for that first Pinto ... the one that would explode it it got rear-ended. But my Mustang, and my Le Car (the tin can that took me to New Orleans so many times) and my Tonka Trunk (the Suzuki Samurai) were all brilliant.

These days, I prefer a taxi.

Years later, it just seems like a nuissance. Traffic. Parking. Insurance. Scraping icy snow off windows. Spark plugs. Trips to the Jiffy Lube. Idiot drivers (don't get me wrong, there are plenty of idiot pedestrians out there as well).

So it's back to London tonight. Where I don't need, or want, the routine of a car.

A motorcycle, on the other hand ...