Here's what I did this week. Learn about traffic. Here's what I did not do. Let it get me down. Though I was close, so very close last night, my determination to let things be and find some good in everything won. And it seemed like the world rewarded me for that. Thank god and hallelujah!
Now, thankfully, I don't have to deal with the worst traffic for my new job, but there's always some, and I've found ways to enjoy it so far, catching up on politics that I don't really care about, listening to jazz or classical to make sure I stay serene, learning to speak French. I just kind of let the time in the car with myself be a fun little segment of my day.
But last night, well, that was a different story! A major thoroughfare was closed or blocked or something, I couldn't even see what was up, and everyone was re-routed onto Sunset Boulevard, which is sort of just always congested, so this made it out of control. I probably could have gotten out of my car and explored every block along the way and gotten a snack or something and returned to my car and have had absolutely no effect on the progress forward.
So there I found myself. So close to home, with no choice but to be there. No way out. No alternative secret routes. Mostly at a complete standstill.
When my usual tricks for entertaining myself ran out, I finally found myself on the brink of true and utter frustration, like, please, can I just get home already! And I thought to myself, well, ok, this is why people get upset with traffic and start honking their horns even though it's ridiculous and doesn't do any good. But then I found myself thinking (I mean, there was a lot of time to think), yeah, maybe it's true, but I don't ever want to be one of those people.
So, instead, I rolled down the windows and held my hand up to the sky and it started to rain ever so slightly, and the air was still warm, and in my rearview mirror I saw the most beautiful ombre backdrop of grey to purple to lavender to pink. And I just kind of half-way crawled out of my window to face it straight on and I swear if a couple of tears didn't well up in my eyes with the rain and the sunset on Sunset Boulevard and so I waved to the guy behind me in his white Mercedes and he smiled and I think he turned to look at the sunset too. And suddenly, life was quite magical once again.
And it got me thinking, for the rest of the drive/destroyer of my poor clutch, about a lot of things, but mostly about Los Angeles and people's perception of it. I mean, traffic comes to mind for a lot of people, but also a sense of superficiality. Like it's this shallow place with no real culture. Which frightened me when I first moved here, reluctantly, for love, so many years ago.
So I decided, while in traffic, because I'm allowed to make decisions like this, that the misconception might be a good thing. Because, really, there is so much depth to this place. I think that the soul of L.A. is actually protected by its shiny, superficial veneer. It's like, that's what the rest of the world sees and it's too bright to see through, but we get to live behind it in this glorious place. Where there is culture and architecture and music and literature and art and some of my favorite museums in the world.
Other cities, they're self explanatory from the outset. New York is obvious. It wears its heart on its sleeve. We see it. I can think of so many cities that are what they seem, Prague and London and Paris and Florence. But Los Angeles, I don't think it gives away too much. I think you need to live here to understand it. And it takes some bravery to make that decision, because, yes, it does seem pretty hollow and disconnected from the outside.
But those who really love it here, who have a relationship with this city, do so because of its depth, not because it's the L.A. that the outside world sees. But because of the meaning, the real meaning that runs through the city and keeps it alive. I do think that the oxygen of Los Angeles has long been creativity and true pioneering. And I'm not trying to talk anyone into moving here (well, maybe one person), but I think L.A. deserves a bit of credit. Or, maybe, just this small love letter from me.
I will tell you a couple of secrets, though, for those who want to see inside. In this city, a breathtaking canvas covered in irises by the hand of Van Gogh hangs at the Getty. The sound of Beethoven rolls over the hilltops. And a girl sits in her car, in traffic, watching the sunset on Sunset Boulevard with delicate tears in her eyes and her heart is so full and she is happy.