In case you are among the wise people not tuned into the melodramatic saga of my life, I live in a new place now. I have finally embraced the fact that I am truly a hipster (my friends have apparently known this all along and I suppose I should have too—see for reference: growing up just outside of Asheville and spending my latter two college years living in Carrboro) and moved to Echo Park. I think I’ll always have a special affection for Hollywood, but this is really much more my style. It’s quieter. The streets are populated with microbreweries, indie coffee shops, and used bookstores. In the place of flashy marquees are strings of twinkly lights—and I love twinkly lights. It’s better for me. I feel better.
Part of that feeling better is finally—finally!—having the quiet time that I’ve been craving for so long. I can’t say how nice it is to be able to think (or not, depending on how I feel) and sift through everything that’s happened over the last year and organize it so that it can all just rest in my mind. This is not a task that will be done quickly, but in time it will be done.
So I had to reroute my drive to and from work, which has actually been another huge plus about my new space. Ten minute commute, anyone? In the mornings, I hop right on the 2 (see? I’m such a Californian) and it’s a straight shot of glorious, barely populated freeway. Same in the evenings. It’s lovely. You’re surrounded by the mountains and the sun is just thinking about calling it quits for the evening. You realize how beautiful Los Angeles really is when you’re not being chewed up by bedbugs or trying to find stree parking or crying at the state of your bank account. There’s a handful of cars on the road with you, so you can actually drive at an appropriate speed for being on the freeway. You push the gas pedal a little more and you get up to 70, 75. Your music’s playing and the windows are rolled down and you feel like you could probably drive on like this forever and then suddenly the speed limit’s 35 and your lane is disappearing. You’ve reached Echo Park and the freeway has ended.
This took me by surprise the first time I drove home from work. It ended so abruptly! I had to slam on my breaks and take a minute to realize where I was and how I had gotten there so quickly. I kept thinking about it for the rest of that evening. I don’t believe I have ever encountered the end of a freeway before. Do they end? Driving 75 or gridlocked in traffic, they have always seemed to me to be infinite things. The next day I paid more attention and realized that there are, of course, big yellow flashing signs warning of the 2’s finality. “END OF FREEWAY APPROACHING.” It’s not even just one sign. It’s multiple. And then just as you take the curve, the punctuating “END FREEWAY” is there. The signs are always there, but when you’re distracted by the speed and the air and the beauty of the land, they are easily overlooked.
It’s like that with people, too.
But it’s fine. I know now that freeways do, in fact, end. I know that the warnings are there. I know to keep an eye out for them.
And I know also that, when left to my own devices, I really do manage quite nicely. I think people forget that. Or maybe I forgot it until recently.
Because when I don’t have someone in the passenger seat making comments like, “Oh my god, do you REALLY use a GPS? Don’t you have ANY sense of direction??” I can get to where I’m going pretty easily most of the time. I smile and laugh a lot more when no one is nagging at me to “be happy” or “look on the bright side” or evoke “positive vibes.” I can whip up some pretty delicious stuff when I don’t have anyone insisting that I follow a certain recipe down to the last pinch of salt. My writing process doesn’t fail me when there’s no one around insisting that “not outlining is suicide” or bludgeoning me with recycled quotes from “How To” books. When I don’t have to strain my voice just to keep people from talking over me or cutting me off—and then when I’m not expected to back up every word that comes out of my mouth with some vague “article”—I actually have interesting things to say. When I’m not boiling with anger over being called a “bitch” or a “cunt” or a “feminazi,” I’m really a fairly cool person to be around (if I do say so myself).
So yes, 75 on the freeway is nice. But I think I’ll take the streets for a while.