As I near the 10th anniversary of my driver's license, I feel it is an appropriate time to examine my relationship with Driving. In the last few years, my relationship with Driving has been sort of, well, rocky. But I can remember an earlier time, a more tender time, a time filled with wonder when my relationship with Driving was new, and (who knows!) we could go anywhere together.
It started out very innocently... a parking lot here, a trip around the block there. But before too long, Driving and I were inseparable, spending all our time together. I couldn't keep my hands off the steering wheel! And finally, inevitably, I was ready to go all the way. With the gentle coaching of my driving instructor, I did it... on the freeway. I felt excited and nauseous and certain of my own imminent death and invincible all at once. I almost passed out when the instructor made what must have been his favorite joke: "Ok, and next time we learn how to make a u-turn on the freeway." Except I didn't know it was a joke, because he was foreign and had an accent, and for a second I thought maybe this dude didn't know the FIRST THING about driving in America, and holy shit, he was going to kill us both! Except I probably thought "holy heck!" or something far more innocuous than "holy shit," because at that time I was a C! I was a C-H! I was a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N (I-A-N!) and I knew Jesus would strike me down with acne if I were to speak any poisoned words of the devil, even if I only spoke them in my head.
Before long I dominated the freeway with my Driving, and I'd go flying along in my 1983 Toyota Celica convertible*, blonde hair whipping in the wind and a flurry of whoops and hollers and marriage proposals trailing behind me on my way to the beach, or along a winding road in the hills, or on my way to the House of the Lord where I would sing His praises, amen. Man, did I love Driving. I loved Driving with a love I thought would never die.
But you guys, I think that love might be gone forever. I mean, I get behind the wheel and I'm just going through the motions -- half the time I'm practically comatose. Now Driving is demanding more and more of my time and money, and what do I get in return? A sore back, a trucker tan, a responsibility to remain sober way too much of the time. I just feel like this relationship has become completely one-sided. And now I find out Driving is in cahoots with Carbon Dioxide to sweat us all off the planet? Oh, hell no.
That's why on Sunday, after having driven nearly 400 miles in the course of one week, a normal week, a week wherein no special trips were taken, I finally said "FECK DRIVING," and decided to take the Metrolink for the first time ever. And you know what? It was awesome. And weird. But mostly awesome.
See, there must be something about the way I look or my aura or my pheromones or something that makes strangers want to talk to me. Because I made no less than three new friends in the course of an hour on public transportation yesterday. And I'm not complaining at all -- I love talking to strangers, and the stranger the stranger the better. Barring, of course, creepy rapist/murderer types, which none of my new friends were.
While I was waiting for the train at the Covina Metrolink station, this adorable, smiley Japanese kid kept asking me questions about riding the train (I pretended like I had all the answers and never let on that I was totally new at this, too). Finally, still smiley, yet now somewhat frantically smiley, he came over and asked if I could help him buy his ticket because his English wasn't so hot and he couldn't figure out how to do it. How cute is that? So I was like his guardian train angel.
Later, on the Red Line, this really cute pregnant lady sat next to me. It wasn't until a crazy guy came on the train and was shouting meaningless obscenities that preggers made friends with me. She turned to me and told me that the problem with LA is that people are too much in a hurry, and they're too selfish, and they swear too much. And the whole problem would be fixed if people would just, like, help old ladies across the street and stuff. I found out that she's pregnant with her 3rd kid, and she's separated from her (verbally) abusive husband, though they're still technically married. And she's going to take the Greyhound to Georgia to visit her family... and truth be told, she's thinking of moving there because a change of scenery might be just what she needs, you know? So then we were BFFs and she patted me on the knee when she left and gave me blessings from god.
Pretty much immediately after that, an older man with a cane fell almost comically into the seat vacated by preggers. He gave me a sheepish laugh and shrugged his shoulders, and then proceeded to make statements that I was completely incapable of understanding. I think because he was speaking a combination of broken English and Crazy Old Man. I was able to figure out after a while that he was trying to tell me he spoke French, except he was saying something like, "I espeak Francey." He later tried to convince me that he also spoke German and Russian, so apparently it's just his English that's a little spotty.
But, new friends aside, taking the Metro was a very zen experience. My right butt cheek didn't cramp as it usually does when my foot flits back and forth from the gas to the brake during an hour+ of LA traffic. (Otherwise known as a visit to the "L.A. Festival of Traffic" -- (C) baddminton.com). And it didn't matter that I completely zoned out the whole time, because there was no risk of me drifting across a freeway and causing a massive pile-up. It was wonderful, and it's made me realize that maybe it's ok if I take a break from Driving for a while. Maybe I don't need Driving as much as I thought I did -- it's not healthy to be that co-dependent, anyway. So, here goes...
It's been real, but I've met someone new. I mean, you had to have seen this coming. You and Carbon Dioxide have been cavorting around behind my back for all these years... did you think I wouldn't find out? Did you think I wouldn't get even? Well, I've got news for you -- I've discovered Riding. And I think Riding and I are going to be very happy together, maybe happier than you and I ever were. I mean, I could never be completely over you, and I know I'll still need you sometimes. But I'm pretty upset right now, and I think it's best if we take a break. I'm so SICK of shelling out hundreds of dollars a month to support your filthy gasoline addiction. Do you know how many beers I could get for the price of just one tank of gas? Beers that I could actually drink, guilt-free, if I didn't have to worry about YOU! I just feel like you're being really selfish. Riding never asks me to stay sober. Riding also never asks me to park, and don't even get me started on THAT.
I mean, yes, it's going to be hard. Especially late at night, and also around the holidays, when Riding won't be there for me as much. But I think this is for the best, for everyone involved. See you later, Driving. Keep in touch.
* I use the word "convertible" here to refer to a vehicular state of being in which there was no "top." My car wasn't actually "manufactured" this way... it was more the result of a whim of one of its previous owners. So even though there was mold in the back seat, there was still the desired effect of long, blonde hair whipping about in the breeze on sunny California highways. Think the opening credits of "The Hills," except way, way, way lower budget.