The Ritual of Our Morning Commute

Think about your day. Select one of your daily rituals and explain it to us: why do you do what you do? How did you come to adopt this ritual? What happens on days when you can’t perform it?

There are so many rituals that I want to have, but not many that I consistently carry out. Except making coffee and that’s more of a desperate survival measure than anything else. 🙂

One relatively new ritual is the daily drive to take Ledcat to her subway station (know as The T in Pittsburgh.) The stop is a mere mile from our house, but she began using it in the dead of winter so I opted to drop her off each morning while it was dark, snowy and cold.

She wakes me up after she showers in the morning and I stumble out of bed and head for the kitchen to pour myself a cup of … well, you know the lyrics. My objective is to drink one full cup of coffee before we have to leave. While the fluid of life is brewing, I put dogs outside, feed cats, let dogs back inside, clean up pet messes and generally try to end up with everyone pottied, fed and relatively clean.

Then I clear out of the kitchen so Ledcat can do her thing, taking refuge in my coffee and my laptop. By this point, at least one critter has created a new challenge – hairball, feeding bowl upset or a little hissy fit. So there’s always a ritualistic cursing streak, depending on how far along I am on that coffee.

I don’t get dressed for this ritual, opting to just head out in my pajamas. I may throw on a coat and I’m known to wear slippers in the cold weather versus actual shoes. If I’m in an accident wearing pajamas and slippers, it is simpler for the paramedics to tend to me, right? So while Ledcat is finishing her breakfast/lunch stuff, I make sure I have my keys and slippers/sandals.  Then I wait and continue to read Facebook/Twitter/Email while she’s putting on her coat.

“Where’s your coat, Susie Kerr?” is something she says pretty much every day. Then she shrugs and heads out, shaking her head and muttering about head colds. We have a brief confab, sometimes wordless, about which car to take and off we go. It takes 3-5 minutes depending on traffic and lights. Port Authority does not have anything resembling a decent “kiss n ride” space for the T near our home, so no kissing. I just hit the unlock button and she’s gone. If we natter on too long, a bus or errant drive will lay on the horn. Sometimes, I just sit there with my flashers on and look at my phone to piss them off even more. Then I head around by the casino and back home again in 2-3 minutes.

After a few weeks, I realized that I actually liked this ten minute routine so I asked her if we could continue even when the weather improves. Getting out of the house can be a social anxiety victory for me so this is a really important tool. I walk back into the house awake and with a sense of accomplishment. Typically, I finish up animal duties and dive into work, both work-work and some housework. But the important thing is that this short period of time adds a bit of structure to my day. It is a tangible demarcation that my day has begun.

Over the past nine months, I haven’t missed a morning except the one time I was physically sick and the handful of times Ledcat opted to walk.  Occasionally, I drive her all the way in to her Downtown office. Pretty much the same ritual, just one that takes an extra 15 minutes.

The one time we had an experience was the morning we watched two women struggling on the icy sidewalks which the City hadn’t cleared yet. Ledcat said “Oh, she fell” and was reaching for the door as I quickly pulled over, threw on the flashers and waited. She helped the two women to our car; they insisted on simply being dropped at the T even though I offered to drive in to Downtown or take them home or whatever. It was a sober reminder of how walking isn’t always healthy, right? And as I watched other pedestrians and drivers just keep moving past these two women, I realized that I always want to be the person who stops even if does make me late. Or I’m in my pajamas.

When I don’t perform this ritual, I can easily allow the morning to slip into afternoon without much structure. On the weekends, we still get up and do the same stuff around the house – Ledcat drives herself to her weekend activities but I still use it as a starting point. Tuning into the Melissa Harris-Perry show at 10 AM is my sort of deadline.

Sleeping in is never good for me, never ever. But waking up to hurl myself onto the couch all day in my pajamas is a guaranteed second-worst option. “Finished Season X of a show” is not something I should consider an accomplishment on a typical day.

So while it would be better for the environment and save a wee bit of gas money for Ledcat to walk each day, it is better for my health and well-being to have this little ritual. I joke about being the housewife kissing her spouse good-bye on his commute.

And, yes, I pick her up most days. That’s an entirely different post. 🙂

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  • Funny how the absolutely mundane details of someone else’s life can be so interesting. Guess we all like a bit of routine…It may be I do the same thing every day. I just don’t like to have to do the same thing every day. My choice, fine! Enjoyed your post.

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