22 June 2009

Piloting the Honda Fit Along the FDR Drive

For the past ten months, I've regularly been driving nearly the entire length of the Harlem River/FDR Drive -- 12 of 13.5 miles, from 178th Street to Houston Street and back -- to get The Offspring to school. At this point, I feel as though I know the road like the old river pilots knew the Mississippi.

Instead of shifting sand bars and treacherous currents, there are blind curves and lane closures for never-ending construction projects.

I know where the nasty pot-holes are, and I know the axle-eating catacombs in the road. I know the sections that are likely to flood when there's heavy rain, and I know the lanes to avoid because the road has settled into waves.

I know where the lanes get narrower and I really have to pay attention; I know where I can grab a sip of coffee. I know when it's not worth bothering to shift into a higher gear, despite the cars accelerating in front of me, because right around the next curve there will be a knot of traffic.

I know where I can pull off when my little passenger needs an emergency bathroom break.

And after countless drives past that sign that says "Triboro Bridge is now RFK Bridge," I'm likely actually to remember the name change, rather than continuing to call it the Triboro for the rest of my life.

Okay, I can count. It's been 40 weeks of school, ten drives per week, divided among two pairs of parents in the car-pool... that's an average of 100 drives per parent.

By September, barring unforeseen complications, we'll have moved down to the Lower East Side, within walking distance of school. Some day, I'll make that drive again, and the construction around the RFK bridge will finally have been completed ... and I'll get thoroughly disoriented.