Objects in Motion Stay in Motion
You can say you know this city well if you recognize the smell under the Jefferson entrance to the I-10 freeway going East. Maybe you’ve been here too long if you can pin it as freshly baked sourdough and apricot pistachio scones being baked at The Larder commissary kitchen behind a Shell gas station and an auto repair shop. Or maybe you just eat out too much if you know that that exact bread will ultimately become a turkey sub across the city at the Hollywood Bowl. Even the sub had to take the 10, to the 110, to the 101 freeway.
If you grew up in LA, it’s your birthright to hate on traffic. The industrial ecosystem that allows us to navigate the multiple personalities of such a segmented city is inevitably a part of life here, one we love to hate on. It’s a scenario we all know too well: a trip from Venice to DTLA morphs the sound of Tibetan bowls and gongs into honking horns and LAPD helicopters. A souped up Mustang switches lanes suddenly, sending your coffee straight into the gear shift, your blood pressure through the roof. You’re not exactly sure what warranted the middle finger salute that follows, or why it stings as much as it does, but the five second encounter feels like defeat. LA freeways are like the Hunger Games; they trigger our most primal human instincts with the underlying fetishization of the last few adrenaline-inducing moments that actually make us feel alive.
… Or at least that’s the story we like to tell. But it was the reflection on how I’ve spent my time in this city I’m about to leave for the first time that made me realize how many hours I actually spend in the car, and how much I take it all for granted. The beauty that inspires me to write often comes from the moments that I describe as “taking me home” — things like milestone celebrations, live music, laying in the park, sitting by a body of water, or driving with the music up and the windows down. It’s a feeling I’ve had to deliberately seek out as a homebody who’s almost never home. But ironically, the moments I feel most at home, both in frequency and intensity, are when I am in motion. There’s something so energizing about being both disconnected and fundamentally in sync with the people and pulse of a city that often feels so divided. Behind the wheel, I’m utterly and intuitively in control of both my trajectory and livelihood while still having the free attention to doze off into space, fantasy, wild ideas, solo reggaeton dance parties, and sheer appreciation of how incredibly beautiful this life and this city truly is.
It only takes fifteen seconds of courage to make a decision — even one to move across the country — but regardless of how my future commute takes shape, one bit of insight still rings true: though we understand home as a static location, it’s also a constant pursuit that’s created and recreated in motion. Whether it’s in a car, on a subway, throughout travels, new relationships, discoveries and perspectives, home as a feeling is captured within the ephemeral moments in which we find meaning and connection to people and place. For me, breathing new life, intentionality and appreciation into those ordinary moments is what makes life extraordinary.
I don’t know why it is that we wait to discover our unbeknownst gifts until they’re almost gone, but for what it’s worth, I think back (and forwards) on the moments in between with deep appreciation. Objects in motion will stay in motion, so here I go, until I’m back, and gone again. But no matter where home becomes, I have to admit, I kinda do love the I-10.