I’ve lived in California for more than 20 years now and yesterday I was finally able to admit to myself: I don’t ever want to get out of my car.
I was at work yesterday and instead of taking an hour for lunch I arranged to take two 30-minute breaks, one at 12:30 to have lunch, and one at 3:15 to pick up Jackson from school. I didn’t bring a lunch so I decided to go over to the sandwich shop because they’re close, they’re cheap, and they’re fast as hell. They’re cheap and fast because they don’t bother with vegetables. You get meat, bread, cheese, something to make it all stick together, and that’s it. The first time I went in there and asked for lettuce and tomato on my sandwich, the girl at the counter pointed at the menu taped to the side of the meat counter and said, “No.” She didn’t say, I’m so sorry for the inconvenience but we only make sandwiches out of things that don’t bruise when you drop them. She just pointed to a list of meats, breads, and cheeses and said, “No.” NEXT.
The actual point of this story, however, is the fact that the sandwich shop is about 350 feet away from where I work, and I drove to get my lunch. I got in my car, pulled out of the library driveway, turned onto the main road, took my foot off the gas and coasted 40 feet, turned into the sandwich shop driveway, and parked in a spot that had a wonderful view of the bench I would normally sit on while eating my lunch, and you know what? Fuck that bench. Yesterday it was windy and cold and that bench is made out of cement. Did I want to shove my napkin under my leg to keep it from blowing away? No, I did not. Nor did I want a bug to fall into my coke, grizzled pedestrians to veer inappropriately close, or my skirt to blow up and expose my pink thigh-highs to the people staring at me from the warmth of their cars while they ate their sandwiches and wondered what the hell was my problem.
Instead, I bought my Fritos, my Diet Pepsi, and my turkey-on-wheat-with-mayo and then brought it all back to my nice, warm aging-Volvo privacy bubble. I put my soda in my cup holder, balanced the Eastside Branch Library’s copy of Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns) on the steering wheel, and didn’t talk to, look at, or think about any of the strangers on the other side of my tinted windows for 25 glorious minutes. I was so delighted and relieved to finally be vulnerable enough with myself to admit that this was the most relaxing lunch I’d had in years that I don’t think revelation is too strong a word to describe my feelings. For so long I’d felt guilty about cutting myself off from the energy of nature or whatever it is hippies say to convince you to get out of your car, take off your shoes, and let the wind blow ecstatically through your hair. Hippies of the world: I love shoes and I don’t have that much hair, and the energy of nature is unpredictable. As a matter of fact, it smells like jasmine mixed with B.O.
So, sorry all you city planners who spend your lives sweating over designs for usable, friendly, safe public spaces! Tomorrow I might take my car to the beach parking lot for lunch, and then maybe we’ll hit a drive-in this weekend. We can double date with my husband’s truck.