Dear Los Angeles,
I felt your echoes in a city that once was; I heard them faintly as the city grew quiet. It’s been so long since I’ve seen you. I’d almost forgotten your essence. So long since your roads looked long and light, no longer heavy from downtrodden passengers. So long since I breathed your unadulterated air, so much so that I could finally leave my inhaler behind while your memory wisped about and rekindled a certain feeling I’ve longed for.
I recall 20 years ago, I’d been driving a 1997 Nissan on your streets to and from Santa Monica as I went to school. I took the 10 every morning and every afternoon, I’d delight in timing how long it took me to drive home with my record sitting at 11 minutes. Today, I filled up with $2.29 gas and thought about the time I’d bought gas just that year in my Silver Nissan and gas was a high .99 cents so my $10 bill didn’t fill her up. Do you remember when driving 80 mph on the freeway was something of a norm? I remember that’s how I drove on your 10 freeway in the mornings at 7:45 and still made it to school in time for the 8am bell. I remember when driving in the fast lane was a privilege, and if you saw someone coming up behind you, you pulled over to let them pass as a courtesy and expectation. It’s been so long since I could speed around without eyes on me that I’d forgotten what it felt like. Anonymity, Movement, Speed. I realized that Speed Traps, those outclaves for CHP cars to sit and catch speeders, have become rest spaces no longer threatening with speed gun and the chasing sirens that followed. As I put the petal to the metal and watched my speedometer rise, I felt you again. As I turned down busy, always avoided streets, and took to the speeds I did as a teenager I found myself laughing as the weights on my shoulders slowly lifted. I walked down your empty streets and somehow felt lighter: at ease, and remembering you.
Today, it took me 8 minutes to get from my house to Santa Monica at 3pm. I was elated, I was dancing in your reverie, I was remembering you. Driving down your deserted streets, seeing the difference lack of business and light, just light, no longer flooding my visual spectrum makes on a memory I’d been chasing for two decades. The lack of sound alone made me exhale, and inhaling: I’d forgotten what today feels like and smelled what yesterday could have been. I see your ghosts when the city shuts down, when the traffic lights turn to all green no longer red with burden. I feel you.
Dear, Los Angeles, dear dear My dear Los Angeles….
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