I do not like pigeons. Their grayish/brown plump feathered bodies, their propensity to poop on absolutely everything and their strong need to invade my foot space when dining alfresco ranks them in the top 5 things I despise about city living. I remember when my hometown grew large enough to attract both Target and pigeons – one big red target sign for all the pigeons to poop on, I thought. It was a sad day when pigeons came to my happy sparrow and dove filled world.
The volume of pigeons in my home town pales in comparison to that of NYC. It is not unusual to see me dart to the other side of the street to avoid a flock of pigeons feasting on discarded bagels. I curse the pigeon lovers who insist on feeding the birds on the sidewalks and in the parks. I have little heart attacks anytime one narrowly misses my head while flying by (those things fly an awful lot like NYC cabbies drive).
After a year here I still freak out when confronted by a flock of pigeons. Once I ended up alone on a subway car with a trapped pigeon, flying around frantically as I said a little prayer and hopped to another car while in transit. Despite my pigeon aversion, I have started to see them as a beacon (beakon, if you enjoy a little pun) of hope. These birds have adapted so well to the gritty life in the city. There are all kinds of stories, some fictional and others fact, of the birds doing amazing things, like the A-line riding pigeons. They are rough and tumble creatures who don’t just survive in the dankest of conditions, they thrive.
Transitioning to life in NYC has been a little harder than I had expected. We don’t live in Manhattan where cafes, markets and shops are just a block or two a way. We don’t live where there are great restaurants and where date nights to see a show are just a quick train ride away. We live in Riverdale, Bronx. Our neighborhood is quaint and family-friendly but we do not have easy access to things like big box retailers and entertainment.
Unlike the pigeon, I was not adapting well to city life. So what did the pigeon have that I did not? Flight. The pigeon could flap its little wings and get the hell out of dodge. The pigeon could fly off to find the best discarded bagel on this side of the Hudson. The pigeon didn’t have to mail order 8 pairs of shoes and return all but one. Ok, that last one is a stretch because to my knowledge pigeons have not evolved to wear shoes… yet… but you get my point.
We sold our car when we moved here. Honestly, we felt a little elitist about this. “We don’t need no stinking car. The bus and subway are just fine for us!” What we didn’t realize was that living without a car in Riverdale means you need to take an hour long train ride to Manhattan if you want to go to Old Navy or Trader Joe’s. Want a date night to see a show? Tack at least another 2 hours of baby sitter time onto the bill because you have a 45-60 minute commute one-way. Want to stock on on groceries? Put your walking shoes on because you have to haul them 10 blocks and then up a big ass hill… with baby in tow. Top all this off with the fact that the Professor and I love to hike and could not get to any of the amazing trails north of us and you had one soggy, house-bound mama Belle.
We tried Zip Car but the prices have gotten out of control. Our last rental for a full day on Saturday was $140. Two of those a month was bascially the cost of a leased car and insurance. Picking up the Zip Car was not particularly easy either as the nearest lot was a 15-20 minute walk down the hill. On two occassions our Zip Car freaked out and locked us inside the car (no joke) and once it locked us out. Zip days became days that we dreaded.
Last weekend we put our pedestrian pride on the shelf and leased a car. A little Honda Civic that is NEW and clean and oh so delightful to drive. It does not smell like fish like the Zip Car we often got and it does not lock us in or out. It is amazing to have my own “pair of wings,” if you will, and be able to run errands and take hikes. As we drove off the Honda lot we mulled over what to name our new car. After a lot of bad suggestions that neither of us agreed upon we came up with The Pigeon. Meet our little grayish-brown, slightly rounded city car that will take us to the country, deliver us to fresh bagels and allow me to actually shop in person for shoes. Our life just got so much better!