It might sound a little strange, considering I just mentioned that I drove 3,000 miles from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, but I actually don’t really like driving. People usually screw up their faces when I tell them this and say: “Really?!” Because, I know, it is the American dream to get their first car and feel the freedom that a long, empty stretch of highway brings on a sunny afternoon. Windows down, hair blowing, music blaring. Amber waves of grain rustling as the car passes by.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved our road trip. I’ve never had so much fun on a road trip and, in fact, didn’t know it was possible to enjoy 12 hours of sedentary driving for 5 days straight. But it is the routine of daily driving that I absolutely loathe. To me, autonomy is not behind the wheel, speeding across pavement every day just to go to work. Or the grocery store. Or the bookstore. And I really hate when my hair is blowing all around me.
This is why I live in a city like New York. I get the pleasure of riding a smelly, dirty, crowded subway every day. And I love it. The subway also indulges my need to multi-task, something that never works well when driving. Instead of staring at the line of cars moving slowly ahead of me, I get to stare at my book. All the countless subway rides I have taken the past few years have allowed me to finish many books and even a few issues of The New Yorker while I’m at it. For that reason alone, I consider the monthly subway pass worth every dollar they charge me. One hundred and four of those dollars, to be exact.
And it is because of this driving that I have a fond appreciation of Los Angeles, yet could never see myself living there. There is a highway to connect every corner of that sprawling city and Charlie and I spent a lot of time on it. But we had a great time exploring all the neighborhoods, especially Los Feliz, where we had an amazing brunch, and Santa Monica, where we shopped and walked along the beach. It was the perfect reward after our long drive and it felt so nice to savor the last few days of our vacation at a much slower pace.
Here are a few snaps from our adventures in LA.
Most days – make that most every day! – I’ll go for a plain cup of jo. Just milk, please. But a vacation in LA felt like the appropriate time to sip a leisurely latte in a coffee shop.
The sign in that last photo was a little disconcerting…
I love how different this city is from the one that I call home and I’m so happy that I finally got to explore it myself. (It seems to me that it is one of the few cities that New Yorkers feel they can make lofty generalizations about. Either LA is the NYC of the west or it is the most deplorable spot in the country. There never seems to be a middle ground!)
But, I will leave you to make you own judgements and with one more snapshot.
This was taken in the gardens at the Getty Museum. Do you see all that SMOG hovering over the city in the distance? Unbelievable. It leaves a little lump in the back of my throat when I think about all the miles of gas we burned just to get here. It’s going to take a couple of mass transit rides to get rid of that guilt.