My first car was a used white 1986 Ford Escort hatchback that my sweet dad “souped up” with a CD changer in the trunk and a vanity plate. The catalytic converter never worked quite right and often smelled of sulfur, and the entire car would shake when you went a little too fast. But I was 16 and couldn’t have asked for anything more.

In my day of chipping in for gas, you could fill up a tank for $20. Granted, my parents boast their VW was topped off at less than $5. I’m now paying more than $70 to power my minivan. And my kids won’t be driving for more than 10 years — what then?

As much as I may change my tune as our credit card bill begins to climb, I’m okay with rising gas prices. Since high school, I’ve been aware of our dependence on a nonrenewable resource. I remember visiting Central Europe 15 years ago, and thinking how our affordable fuels condition us to waste, waste, waste.

We’re not completely dependent on our one family car. My husband’s commute to work involves walking and a 35-minute train ride. My son will walk to school in the fall. Our grocery store, our gym, our parents and many of our friends are within three miles of our home. Our only long drive is 30 minutes to our church-of-choice every-other Sunday.

What stinks is how many communities do not offer the infrastructure to support mass transit. How many people depend on their cars for their commutes to work or school. How many families won’t be able to easily adjust to gas prices higher than we’ve imagined.

I’m an environmentalist at heart, and I welcome the challenge to use less. But I wish there was an easy answer for those among us for whom this challenge is daunting.

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