Really, I didn't need a car. Instead I had what the good folks of Japan had relied on for lots of many years. I had a Mamachari.
Mamachari is slangish for something like Mama's Chariot (or maybe an entirely different meaning, but that one sounds good), and it's the shorthand for those very utilitarian looking granny bikes with baskets that are everywhere in Japan and ridden by everyone. I rode my mamchari through hot and humid summers to a school without air conditioning, in cold winters against the chiling wind back to an apartment with no heat, I grocery shopped with bags hanging from the handle bars (once in a typhoon), I somehow once carried home a book case on it from the DIY store, and I rode on the back rack cushioned with towels on romantic rides holding on tight while he drove under the summer moon and along to the music of the chirping frogs.
My mamachari was my transportation, even just to get to the train for additional transportation. I loved it; I didn't love it, both, but quickly it became what I knew, at least as far as my life in Japan was concerned, where many things I came to know as familiar were different from "home" - squat toilets, bullet trains, coffee creamer called Creap, drinks called Pocari Sweat, rice cookers that are smarter than some people I know and hanging clothes to dry for lack of a dryer.
Moving back to the States, I got right back into some old ways and had a car within about 24 hours, even if I cringe at the thought of wearing shoes in the house to this very day and still eat ramen with chopsticks. I was sure that my mamachari days would remain a bittersweet memory of my days in Japan.
Then a decade later, I quit smoking and started walking but found I couldn't run without expensive shoes due to ankle issues, and the price of gas went up well over $4.00, and suddenly riding a bike seemed like an excellent alternative to running while also saving money I don't have to spend at the pump. I'd already mysteriously started boycotting my dryer and more mysteriously stuck with it (and still now) citing as a reason to myself that I'd done it for 3 years in Japan, so getting back on the bike seemed a good idea.
A friend from work loaned me a bike, a mountain bike, and I was in shock (expressed in a haiku that ends with a bottle of wine) at how difficult it was to ride and how damn uncomfortable, too! Each time I rode a little, I found myself daydreaming about comfortable bikes with baskets in the form of granny bikes, mamacharis, and before I could name The Carpenters as the other favorite musical artist next to The Beatles in all of Japan, I realized that I *had* to have a mamachari immediately.
After a few weeks, I convinced Tom to agree with me, and on Sunday I went to the Target and bought something I never thought I'd own outside of Japan, this wonderful, perfect, comfortable and exactly as I've been dreaming about mamachari (this one).
Riding it for the first time, every bad karaoke version of Yesterday Once More by The Carpenters ran through my mind (I was witness to many versions, none exactly good), and I just hummed aloud and cruised along agreeing that yes, it is, indeed, yesterday once more. I've already bought a cool quick-release basket, and I've come full circle: boycotting the dryer, riding a mamachari, other small oddities. However, if you see me squatting over my toilet, the kind with, you know, a seat, please intervene, thx.