On Commuting

“Fuck!” I mutter in my apartment as I check the bus tracker app on my phone. It’s telling me the bus will be coming in four minutes and I typically take five minutes to get to the stop. I can’t miss it either, because, of course, I waited to catch the last #2 bus of the morning headed to Hyde Park. Four minutes means I’m anxiously riding the elevator down to the first floor, silently cursing anyone who dares make it stop at their floor. Four minutes means I’m practically in a rocker start at the edge of the street waiting for traffic to clear just enough for me to dart through. Four minutes means me sprinting all the way to the stop just to fight for a place in the bus’ doorway the entire ride down.

I don’t particularly mind all the sprinting, though; at least it’s constant exercise. Because I commute from the South Loop, I no longer have my bike in HP, and I think that’s what I miss the most.  Biking gets you everywhere so much more quickly than walking. When I first moved downtown, I tried to bike to campus a few times. It’s not a bad bike ride at all–a breezy 30 minutes flat.  Unfortunately, I always forget that I am a really sweaty person, and I quickly learned why biking would be a bad idea.

So now I have a thirty-day CTA pass. And I think that pass is the thing I love most about being a commuter. I love being able to hop on the CTA whenever I want to go wherever I want. Last weekend I went to the West Loop, Chinatown, River North, and downtown without much effort. When I lived in Hyde Park it was a lot easier to stay put than to try to find enough quarters for the bus. And I didn’t really know much about the city. I’ve seen more of the city in the past nine months living out of Hyde Park than I have in my past three years here. I constantly frequent a meat market in Pilsen and found an awesome thrift store near UIC. You get your money’s worth out of the pass after about only two weeks.

I’ve forged a second home in Harper because I commute. On a typical day I don’t go outside from 10am to 8pm. I’m a sociology major which means that all of my classes and office hours happen to be located in the Harper-Social Sciences-Stuart continuum–I never have to step foot outside.  Sometimes it’s a bummer. However, now that it is the winter, I am not complaining.

When I used to live in Hyde Park and my apartment was close, I would just convince myself that I could go home and “do laundry,” or take a nap, or grab something quick to eat, and come back to the library after I was rejuvenated. I like that I can’t lie to myself like that anymore. Now that going home is too much of a hassle, I get a lot of work done during the week. Which is necessary because living downtown with a bus pass means it’s so easy to go all over the city on the weekends and also means it’s so easy to get zero work done. I, however, blame myself less and Groupon more.  Overall, I love that I’ve moved off. I don’t run into UofC kids everywhere I go. It’s nice. Now that I know the city more I feel much more like a Chicagoan.

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