This past week, I had the pleasure of sitting as a panelist for Admitted Student’s Day to discuss the student experience at BU Law. We discussed, among other things, the school, the faculty, the city of Boston, and living arrangements. One prospective student asked if it was worth it to have a car.
I am one of the lucky ones when it comes to having a car in the city. My apartment came with a parking spot, and while the car usually sits idle six days of the week, the ability to get out of town for a few hours on the weekend or pick up groceries is a huge perk.
For me, driving means more than that.
Maybe it’s because I spent the past five years on an island in the Pacific where a road trip meant, at most, a 20-mile trip to the north shore, but when I look out the window and see my car (covered in snow at the moment), I feel connected to the whole country.
On our way out here from Hawaii to start the school year, my girlfriend and I shipped the car to Seattle and spent the next three weeks driving across the continent. We hit the Oregon coast, the Redwoods, and Reno. We saw Shoshone Falls, the so-called “Niagara of the West,” and the actual Niagara Falls as well. We crossed through Wyoming and Yellowstone, poking briefly into Montana for a bite to eat. We saw Mount Rushmore and a Corn Palace, caught a game at Wrigley Field, and hung off the side of the CN Tower in Toronto. We saw moose, deer, elk, buffalo, bears, otters, eagles, and ospreys. We crossed the continental divide as the GPS showed our elevation slowly rise from the Pacific and into the Rockies up to 9,340 feet only to descend back down the other side as we headed toward the Atlantic. And somewhere in Wall, South Dakota, we even saved a turtle crossing the road.
When the prospective student asked us about having a car last Friday, I, like everyone else, thought of the question purely in terms of convenience and practicality. I forgot how much of the world there is to go out and see if you have the chance. Of course, having a car in Boston can be a challenge, both logistically and economically—I am dreading the impending repair bill as I get the car ready for its annual inspection. But maybe it is worth looking at it as more than just a tool for commuting. It’s a lobster roll in Gloucester on a Saturday afternoon. It’s a taste of Ben and Jerry’s at the factory. It’s Portland, Maine, or Newport, Rhode Island. It’s Mount Washington, or Mohegan Sun. It’s a ride for your friends when they need one.
It might even be a summer job. My road trip this summer inspired me to submit my resume to the Department of the Interior for a chance to work for the agency that oversees so many of our natural resources and treasures.
Law school, it goes without saying, is a busy time. We spend so much time diving into casebooks that sometimes we forget about the bigger picture of the America we hope to serve through the law. I can think of no better reminder than hitting the open road from time time, and just seeing where it takes you…