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Why I Miss Having a Car: The Music

It's been more than seven years since we moved to Philadelphia and sold our car. For the most part, it's been a good thing: Every step we take — and every gallon of gasoline we don't burn — has been healthier both for us and the environment.

I only occasionally miss having a car. Our experience of the city is certainly different than it otherwise would be: It's much more located in the environs of where we live than it would be if we just go in the car and went whenever and wherever we get the notion. Relying on transit requires planning, which can be the death of "let's go over to Kensington to grab a bite." So I miss that.

Mostly, though, what I miss, is something silly: The ability to sing at the top of my lungs.

I was taking a long walk this afternoon on Market Street, listening to Pandora, when I was suddenly gripped by the urge to start singing along -- loudly -- to Arcade Fire. I looked around to see if I'd get caught. Sure enough: There were too many people around. I'd look like a crazy man if I just started belting.

That's less a problem when you're on the highway. Yes, cars passing you can and do see that you're performing a full-blown concert. But there's still enough privacy that it doesn't matter.

I realize now, years later, that my car was the primary place I experienced music -- and also, the primary place I experienced a certain kind of joy in unashamedly throwing myself into the music. Owning a car in Center City would be a pain in the ass -- it's not a need, and would be an expensive luxury -- but I miss it.


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