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Illustration: Sarah Welch.

The Mobility Challenge: A Personal Essay

This post is accompanied by a pocket-sized zine, designed by Evan O’Neil and printed by Mystic Multiples on a risograph, that you will be able to find at Houston-area coffee shops and transit centers. We want you to share your story of the city with us by emailing rda@rice.edu or posting to social media with the hashtag #DesignHouston. Follow RDA at @RDAHouston on Twitter and Instagram.

The two kids and I depend on our Metro Q Cards and sturdy shoes.

We did have a car. The weekend before school starts, I am driving west on I-10 after retrieving my two children from summer in Alabama with their father. It’s been years since my air-conditioner worked, so I take the trip between sundown and dawn, windows down to stave off the August heat. Traffic is sparse, mostly semis and speeding pickups. The refineries loom along the way, their scaffolding bright with yellowed light, thick white smoke churning into the night air.

I’ve passed the first round of them and am surrounded by dark, mosquitoed fields when my old done-for Jeep starts to smoke. I pull off on the shoulder, at least 60 miles from Beaumont, before the Jeep bleeds out every last ounce of its transmission fluid. It wasn’t worth fixing the last several times I took it to the shop, and I’m a single parent on a graduate student stipend, so the most reasonable thing to do, when we get back to Houston?

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