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Monday, August 18, 2008

Adventures on the 720

I will admit selling my car might have been a tad rash. It was time though. The thought of buying a brand new car to sit on the street outside my apartment and get banged up and wait for the one day a week that I would use it, seemed silly. Renting a car once a week is actually cheaper than insurance and gas and car payments. So now I am carless in Los Angeles.

I do think about other places I might like to live. Places where having a car is not directly related to your status as a human. Places where the doors to venues are not all linked to the parking lots and the ones to that lead to the sidewalks are locked at all times. Where life takes place outside of cell phones and there are more personal interactions other than looking to your left or right at a red light.

So yesterday on a sunny Sunday afternoon I decided to walk up to Wilshire blvd. a few blocks from my home and hop on the 720 rapid bus to go and see the Broad exhibit at LACMA. It was my first time on the rapid bus system and I was pleasantly surprised. As soon as I found the bus stop, the bus pulled up. I got on, sat down and in a very short time and few stops reached my destination. The museum was surprisingly light on visitors but up the road I walked to "The Grove", a Disney like version of main street where chain stores and restaurants are linked up in an outdoor mall. That was packed with people browsing and eating. At around 3:30 or 4pm on a Sunday afternoon it seemed like everyone was eating. Everything from full plates of omlettes, crepes, burgers, burritos, or Chinese food to pies and frozen yogurt and cake. I suppose it seems reasonable that instead of spending their dollars on the bigger ticket items they were seeing in the stores they treated themselves to a Sunday splurge? Maybe it's a weekly tradition to eat a big meal or a pastry at that time of day. When I was in Germany once visiting a friend and her relatives, they had "coffee time" in the late afternoon that always included cookies or cake. They didn't eat a big dessert after dinner though. Perhaps I ought to do some investigation and interview people at places like this on Sunday afternoons?

I'd had my fill of viewing and walked back down to Wilshire to find a 720 back to Santa Monica. The bus stop was simple to spot and there were many people waiting. This bus runs every 7 minutes so I didn't bother to look up a scheduled time. I figured with all of those people waiting it must be coming any minute. Perhaps a bus was missing that day? We waited for about a quarter of an hour before the bus arrived at Fairfax and Wilshire. Standing room only and English a second language for many. I helped an Italian girl pay her fare and squished in rather easily. Somehow there was plenty of space and people found their spots. Shortly after I got on, many got off and I took a seat.

I have driven up and down this length of Wilshire many times but the view from the bus is quite different. L.A. looked like a different city. A prettier city. Where race and status matter little and we are all wanting similar things of good food, nice clothes and shelter and have some pleasure in the day. I watched some girls with a little boy who got on the bus and probably never had a thought that they were supposed to have a car by this age. It was not about rights but about getting to where they needed to go. There were excited tourists seeing the city for the first time. They were probably having it easier than trying to navigate with an automobile. No parking, no gas to buy or other drivers to watch out for. It was a simple and different experience on the 720 on a Sunday afternoon.

1 comment:

M. Triskana said...

Awesome insights, Susan. My son lives in L.A., as you know, and he commented once that you must own a car to live there. I am thrilled that you prove that incorrect and even find new ways of seeing in the world by taking the bus. Not focusing on making him wrong, just observing that there is another way to see things. Love you!