My car is a certifiable deathtrap. Her name is Floo Floo the Floozy and she wears an exposed garter strap to match her sass and unpredictability (look at picture below for reference). I’m quite positive she’s a hell chariot on four wheels in disguise determined to lead me to my early demise, but I drive her because living in the San Fernando Valley without a car is a greater death sentence, in my opinion. Owning a vehicle that probably shouldn’t be allowed on the freeway has forced me to find creative ways to get to places on most days. It also makes me evaluate the worth of going somewhere, because of all the time management involved in trip planning. Side rant: Google Maps just adores freeways, so I usually fight with it to let me stick to streets. Google Maps is usually the victor.
Of course, sometimes my inner Evel Knieval takes over and I push my little deathtrap to 68 mph on the freeway. Bring on the rings of fire and ten car pileup, she’s coming in fast! But that’s only on special days when I’m desperate to get somewhere. Most days, I just avoid the freeway altogether, which hasn’t been much of a problem this year, because I’ve been sticking close to home for the last month and half (try five-mile radius close), so the need to push my car hasn’t really been an issue. However, when I woke up on Sunday, the craving for something new ate away my insides until I pushed myself out of bed and dared to sit behind the wheel.
Normally the 210 going East is wide and curved like the rainbow level on Mario Kart with drivers treating it like the final lap. Since I wanted to still be alive to share this, I took Foothill Blvd instead, and at around 8:00 A.M. on a Sunday, I had the road mostly to myself.
Driving with the windows cracked and a light rain sprinkling on my windshield, I cruised along the sloping street, enjoying my drive like I used to enjoy road trips as a child. I could gaze at the clouds above, watching how they hugged the mountaintops like children clinging to their mothers’ sides. I passed by a memorial of a white wire bike tied to a fence with a garden of flowers surrounding it and allowed myself to weep silently for a life lost I’ll never know. The range of wealth displayed along the road, from trailers to two-level homes fit for a storybook, all told the tale of Los Angeles and how a prince and a pauper can be neighbors. The freeway ran parallel to my drive so I could watch how fast the cars flew by, determined to get to their destinations, and all I thought about was how much they missed along the way.
How they didn’t see the old man running along the side of the road with his backpack and highlighter yellow shorts, determined to outrun the younger boy up ahead to prove spirit doesn’t die with age. How they didn’t see a homeless community begin to stir on the side of the road, gathering together for their morning ritual and proving the human need for connection exists no matter your financial status. How each street corner held the opportunity for a story and how the slow, winding road soothed any anxiety I’d been feeling earlier that week.
Maybe if I had a better working car, I would have taken the freeway. In fact, I know I would have. Being forced to take the slow road that morning made my car feel less like a chariot of doom and more like a carriage worthy of a Godmother’s creation, full of untold possibilities (without the pumpkin smell). I don’t encourage you to get a POS car just to experience life more leisurely, but maybe leave an hour earlier this week and take the long route that may seem daunting and time-consuming on Google Maps, but holds promise no technological program can calculate.