What if the gas-driven economy truly, permanently lead to a back-to-basics, only the deeply wealthy can afford to travel, eat out, etc. etc. daily reality? When my grandmother was a girl, a trip to the beach was a once-in-a-lifetime event, even though she lived just six hours away by car. The cost was just inconceivable. A family had to be able to own a car, afford time off from work, able to pay the cost of a hotel as well as meals out.
Now, nearly every family around me has a beach condo or lake house or mountain cabin where they spend vast amounts of the summer, driving happily back and forth to enjoy their "second home." Yes, Dunwoody is atypical, quite a bit more affluent than your average community. But still.
What if we had to stay home?
What if the food we prepared had to come from someplace local, since transportation costs are so high? What if the clothes we wear had to last beyond trendiness because runways and magazines and malls and other sources of fashion-itis once again became the province of the elite? What if a family had just ONE car, more for work and special occasions and emergencies than every-other-hour errand-running? What if the most desirable homes became those within walking distance of a grocery store, pharmacy, hardware store, post office, library, and bank? What if children raised to fear the outdoors had to learn, with their parents, how to grow food and repair things around the house and play without batteries?
The cost of gas has made me appreciate our walkable life here in Dunwoody. I can walk to the Nature Center as well as Dunwoody Village (bank, Publix, Walgreens, library, Ace Hardware, etc.), and do so regularly. The MARTA station is just two miles away. The swimming pool is in the neighborhood, and most of the kids' friends live nearby. The internet brings textbooks, swimsuits, and yarn so I don't drive around checking out prices and selection. Now that we're in summer mode, we can cut way back on driving and unnecessary purchases. Shorts and t-shirts rule! I've cut out prepackaged snacks and prepared convenience foods in favor of homemade everything since it's cheaper to prepare and serve.
These are small steps, and likely the first steps in a changed life-as-we-know-it. Pragmatically, cost is the primary catalyst. But the narcissism that prevails in my corner of the world is hastening the waste of limited resources in the demands of the me-me-me to get it all now.
What if we had to stay home? Maybe we'd all grow up.