No. 8: 🚘⚔🌆
Every day you drive in LA is a day you nearly die. Your amygdala flips on and off like it’s normal to kiss oblivion, jolts of adrenaline like shots of espresso. Flight fight freeze. Freeze flight fawn. Fight.
From the moment you sit behind the wheel, you brace for war. Your car is a weapon and you and your fellow drivers must all trust you won’t kill each other. The seatbelt is your helmet, brake pedal your shield, gas pedal your sword. Let people talk shit about LA drivers all they want. You know an invaluable piece of enemy intel early on: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
You pass wrecks on the daily, most crunched up fenders, some totaled flips. When will it be your turn? How much physical therapy will you need? Did you make enough in residuals to keep your SAG insurance? Dead bodies covered by sheets are as normal as rain—not frequent, but a few times a year. You pass these fallen soldiers with toxic relief. If it’s them today, it’s not you.
You don’t realize the toll of this daily battle until you move to Texas. You can run four errands in UNDER AN HOUR—the bank, the grocery, the cleaner’s, AND the pet shop. No one nearly kills you. You don’t remember the combat that is driving in LA until you return. Westbound 210 is backed up, but it’s not ’til you’re through Pasadena and cresting the hills of the 134 that you see The Smog, brown like dried blood, the smoke of vehicular war. Your body slips into hyperalertness like putting on an old uniform.
One more curve through crisp-dry hills and there she is, that movie-famous skyline, glittering and lit by a California sunset. Such a pretty backdrop for smashes of metal and glass. If you die on these streets, you’ll die in SoCal splendor, tanned and cortisol-jacked with THC in your veins. Everyone in LA would have more wrinkles if it weren’t for the medical spas dotting the city like churches in the Bible Belt.
Everytime you pull into your driveway—a gated underground, a janky carport, or a narrow squeeze alley that makes you suck in your tummy as though your car might suck in with you—you turn off your engine with a slump of relief. You made it. You survived another day.