Oh, To Have a Car: Life With Twins in Brooklyn

Material objects do not bring happiness.

That said…wouldn’t life be grand if we had a washing machine, a dishwasher, an elevator, and a car. People in suburbs or small towns, or even most other cities, have these things and think nothing of it. Many Brooklynites live without these comforts: I didn’t miss them until I had twin babies.

To drive to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving we rented a car, and since it was a weekly rental and we weren’t there for a full week we got it for a couple extra days in the city. To take advantage, last night I drove to the grocery store.

Here is shopping with the car:

Step 1: Get in car, drive to co-op in five minutes, park two blocks away.

Step 2: Shop to hearts content, buying massive amounts of heavy groceries, get co-op walker to help get groceries back to car.

Step 3: Drive home in five minutes, unload groceries from in front, park the car two blocks away.

And here is how it works usually, without a car:

Step 1: Walk two short blocks and two very long blocks downhill to the subway, whatever the weather.

Step 2: Wait twenty minutes for the R train. Ride local to Union Street.

Step 3: Exit subway and walk two and a half very long blocks uphill to the co-op.

Step 4: Either A) Buy massive amounts of groceries then call a car service, wait ten minutes and pay twelve dollars. Or B) Buy as many groceries as you can carry. Lug them in multiple bags down two very long blocks. Just miss the train, wait fifteen minutes. (Ice cream is melting.)

Step 5: Ride the R train back to Sunset Park. Walk two very long blocks up the steepest hill in Brooklyn carrying extremely heavy bags of groceries.

In option A, complete errand in an hour and a half, get home and feed babies and put them to bed. In option B, complete errand in three hours plus, miss at least one feeding with the babies.

I don’t love cars, and am very pro public transportation, but this set up is not conducive to sanity. I need efficiency.


8 thoughts on “Oh, To Have a Car: Life With Twins in Brooklyn

  1. We didn’t have a car when my son was born and I was so miserable because I was so limited (I had sold my car years before when we moved downtown, but then we moved to the suburbs). Now, with three kids (I had twins too) even with the car it is a lot of work to go anywhere, but I would die without it. I agree that money doesn’t buy happiness, but it definitely comes in handy, especially with kids. Hang in there 😉

  2. So when we were moving to Sunset Park, I thought of a car as a necessity for a middle-class family to maintain a middle-class standard of living and factored that into our housing costs. Our landlords have two cars (one belongs to the adult daughter with a son), and many of the families on our block have one. It’s hard to get to other places in Brooklyn or Queens without it, and you’re not going to balance two infants on a bike. I think in most non-Manhattanified neighborhoods, people expect to have a car for a family, and it really changes what is accessible. Also, if you want to really blow your mind, go to Fairway and park in the parking lot! I’ve always been iffy on our Key Food, so easy access to Fairway was a must.

    You can be pro-public transportation and still do the things you need to do to make sure your life is functional. Your needs have changed; your relationship to stuff is allowed to change, too.

    • Yes, we’ve just not had a car for so long we’re used to it. But now pretty much nothing is accessible with the babies. I’m not sure I could take two babies shopping, though, even if I did have a car. Maybe. It might be within the realm of possibility, as opposed to completely impossible.

  3. What about a zip car? I don’t know anything about them except people in Boston use them to food shop. 🙂
    And, shopping with two is only possible if they are in a stroller and you only need 10 or less items that can fit under your stroller 🙂 At least that’s my limit, or rather super power.

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