Thursday, May 7, 2009

Night driving in LA

Last night, I had gone to a charity theatre event put on by the Soroptimist's Club of Whittier. The event wrapped up a little after 9:30, and I wended my way thru the streets of Whittier, to get to the freeway. I was about 25 minutes from my house via the 605 and the 10 freeways.

At that time of the night, I was doing 75, flying down the freeway, with my iPod blasting at a pretty high volume. And I started thinking, this is really great, and why don't I do this more often?

I remember when I was in college; I used to drive at night all of the time. My freshman year in college, I was driving every Friday to see my high school girlfriend at Pomona College, which was about 60 miles from UCLA, where I was residing in the dorms. I'd leave Pomona really early in the morning, and I would have the freeway to myself, while I'm speeding like a maniac, listening to loud music. I used to love that; the speed, the music, simply driving. When I had first moved into the dorms, I knew nothing about LA County, having spent my whole life behind the Orange curtain. So, I bought a Thomas Guide and proceeded to systematically learn the county in the only method possible; by driving thru it. I started close by, driving on the Westside; Pico, Wilshire, Lincoln, Sepulveda. Then I expanded to MidTown and Hollywood; Melrose, Santa Monica, La Brea, La Cienega, Hollywood, Sunset. I learned Downtown, Silver Lake, Griffith Park, the South Bay and the Valleys, both San Fernando and San Gabriel.

And I would drive at night. I had this one friend, Monique. She's still my friend all these years later, although we don't talk all that often. We would go to dinner, go see a horror movie, and then I would drive for hours, while we were talking and listening to music. We used to have a joke, every time Monique got in the car, my engine would groan, because it knew it was in for a long night.

Of course, I knew all the places to drive at night, PCH up by Malibu, or maybe Mulholland Drive, with all of the makeout spots, Hollywood and Downtown, with all of the lights. This city looks different at night, especially when you're flying past it at 70 miles an hour. I used to love it so; if I was sitting in my apartment, and was in a bad mood, I just got in the car and drove. Never with any destination in mind. I'd just drive. I discovered so many places that way. It was therapy for me; a way to clear out my mind.

Which brings me to last night. Driving home, flying down the freeway, blasting music. I wasn't particularly troubled, but I found myself just losing myself in the drive. My left hand on the wheel, my right hand on the gear shift (5 speed, don't you know. I've never owned a car that didn't have a clutch). The music blasting. The city flying past me in a blur of lights and signs. I got home around 10. My wife was inside, and I had work to go to in the morning. I had all the responsibilities of a 41 year old professional male waiting for me in that house. And although I embrace those, and enjoy my life, there was a part of me that thought for a moment about backing the car out of the driveway, getting back on the freeway and flying thru the city.

But, I didn't.

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