Next fifteen minutes

Okay, I promised, so I will blog before bedtime.

I am beginning to think that the operational definition of "close" is about fifteen minutes of travel-time. I think that holds for any kind of travel: walking, car, bicycle, etc. There's something about fifteen minutes, a quarter of an hour, that puts it slightly above "let me just stick my head next door" while still below "pack a lunch."

Whatever brings on this bizarre observation?

There are several reasons why my wife and I decided that, even though I was working in Coruscant, we would not buy a place in the city itself. Part of it was the generally poor school system in the city, and part of it was a desire for something a bit larger than was generally available in the city in our price range; both of these reasons were related to the immanent arrival of children. But we also decided to buy outside of the city because there was no way we could afford to live "close" to the university, which is in a rather expensive area of Coruscant (a three-bedroom colonial down the street from the university just sold for like $1.1 million -- and it was a smallish colonial at that), there was no point in trying to live in the city when I'd have about the same commute time with us living outside of the city. If there had been something available "close" to the university, that might have made for a different set of calculations.

Hence, my usual daily commute to and from the university is more like 30-60 minutes depending on the time of day and the direction of travel. If I hit it just right in the morning, driving after rush hour, I can usually get to the university in about half an hour; coming home, when I invariably get caught up in the evening rush, it's usually more like an hour. It's not a long commute by comparison to what I used to do when teaching in New York and living out on Long Island; that was 2 1/2 hours each way, several days a week. And when we first moved down here it seemed like nothing at all --"we're practically next door," I remember thinking.

Seven years later, the commute has gotten old. And in particular, I have noticed that about fifteen minutes into it I start to get a little anxious, and often find myself thinking that if this were all the travel-time I needed, I'd be fine. But it's not, and so I have to keep driving past that "close" limit.

Commuting is not fun. Even with a good radio station or some good CDs, it gets old after a rather short while, especially if it's a daily thing. Plus, the fact that it's longer than the "close" limit means that I can't "just run in" to the university; I have to make a trip, which further keeps the university at arm's length. And this in turn contributes to the odd feel of the campus, which I often experience as a commuter campus even though hundreds of students live there in residence halls. The faculty don't tend to live "close," so they spend time commuting to and from the university -- time that could otherwise be spent living in a campus community.

Maybe the university needs to invest in some faculty housing "close" to the campus.

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