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.


Twins Take the Subway

We took the twins on their first trip on the subway last week. We needed to go into Manhattan for a doctor’s appointment. Luckily, D and I were both going, because I still haven’t figured out how I could take them on the subway alone. We each put one twin in a moby (D) or ergo (me).

The appointment was near Columbus Circle at 8 am. We’d need to leave about an hour to get there. At rush hour trains can be packed so full you don’t need to hold the pole because you sway together with the other standing passengers squeezed against you as one tight people mass. We crossed our fingers that, leaving a bit before 7, we would just miss the rush. There was the option of a cab, but all the way uptown would be expensive and seemed unnecessary.

The first train wasn’t too crowded. A young man got up and offered his seat. At 36th Street we stood there waiting as the platform slowly filled with people and no train came, conscious that every minute that passed brought us closer to the 9 am rush. Luckily, we didn’t encounter one of those cattle car commuter trains, just ones uncomfortably full with people standing too close sneezing and hacking. One woman sat next to us applying her mascara, nose dripping away with no tissue. I tried to angle myself away from her.

On the way back, there must have been work happening on the tracks, because the conductor kept suddenly blowing the deafening horn, and we’d rush to put our hands over the babies ears, who made sad shocked faces each time. This in addition to the soot-blackened walls, which come to seem normal, and what looked like vomit between the seats across from us.

This was also the babies’ first time in Manhattan. It made them seem very small. But the subway vibration at least must have been soothing, because both directions it lulled them to sleep. Image