My LA Commute: A Survivor’s Story

12 Sep


Every morning I get in my car just after 8:00.

I have an underground parking spot, and as I pull out I always look at the Yacht Clubbed license plate next to me belonging to Fran, a neighbor I once thought was part of my romantic comedy.

I drive into the gloom of morning-by-the-ocean and my phone adjusts to having service again. I anxiously freeze my fingers on my tumbler, gulping the first water of the day.  It’s the moment of truth, this transition from Searching to LTE.   How bad, exactly, will it be today?

Google Maps lights up quickly, all red, as usual.  It’s 8:02AM in LA and I’m driving downtown.

It’s all red, always.

I quickly take stock of my options.  I can call my best friend in Utah.  Sometimes I’m able to catch her in between baby feedings and being a grown up.

I can turn on the radio and listen to those two know-nothings who hate Mariah Carey. I can brave the fuzzy side noise that comes with my auxiliary cord.

Most of the time, though, it just comes down to me and Luke’s CD.  The one he made me right when we started dating.

It’s full of his Jill songs at that particular point in time, and I have the whole thing memorized backwards and forwards and upside down Beyoncé.

I clip along through the back roads of LA, Norwegian Wood lightly setting the mood.  I admire the palm trees and wonder where I would settle down, if I had to live here for the rest of my life.

Oh please let this not be my place for the rest of my life.

But if it’s this street, I want the Snow White cottage.

And if it’s the next block, the pink one.  Because you can have a pink house in that neighborhood, you should have a pink house in that neighborhood.

I pass the McDonald’s on the corner, never in enough time to stop, but always in enough time to make me want to stop.

The traffic starts and stalls and plays with my heart every few minutes. Google Maps likes to alert me that a new! faster! route is available and sometimes I let myself believe it, and 17 minutes later I’m stuck on a side road, nowhere near work, with only Stevie Nicks to comfort me.

My mornings go Lennon, Nicks, Petty, in that order.

Carey, Swift, Hawkins, too, if we’re being precise.

I slow down at USC.  I speed up for three seconds at a time and jolt to a stop, wondering why I forgot I can never speed up.

I listen to The Cranberries on repeat.

And then repeat again.

After an hour or so of struggle and mixed CDs, I pull into the third row of Joe’s Auto Parks and employ the unnecessary emergency brake.  I’m always a little later than planned and I always hate LA  just a little bit more than I ever thought I could hate a place.

I grab my tumbler, the book that won’t fit into my bejeweled Gone With the Wind purse, and my bruised 3-day old peach.

It’s time to start my day and I’m already over it.

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3 Responses to “My LA Commute: A Survivor’s Story”

  1. Cheri @ Overactive Blogger September 12, 2014 at 8:41 am #

    Wow – beautifully written!

  2. Saleh Stevens December 21, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

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