Sunday, December 19, 2004

walk a little, enjoy your neighborhood... 

I've written before about my reluctant love for this strangely bright city. And I'll be the first to admit there are things about Los Angeles that I don't like. After all, no city is perfect. Not even, I'll wager, Portland, Oregon. But this odd city isn't all that bad to live in. Even though it is the Land of Automobiles.

Perhaps that's what L.A. really stands for. And it is most definitely the truth of the city. All hours of the day and night cars can be seen traveling - oftentimes jamming - the streets and freeways. Jokes and stories, films and hymns have been made about Los Angeles and its love of motor vehicles. Steve Martin was not entirely exaggerating in L.A. Story when his character drove two houses to his best friend's home (I once worked for a woman who drove from work to K-Mart - which was across the street). Back when I had a car I drove almost everywhere, even down the street.

Thing is, with the average Angeleno's need for commuting via personal vehicle, we miss out on so much, even in our own neighborhoods. I've lived in my neighborhood for over eleven years. I love my neighborhood. Though in the Valley - which garners snorts and derision from those on the southern side of the Hollywood Hills - my little neighborhood on the southeast side of the Valley is really quite wonderful. Its proximity to Hollywood and West Hollywood is convenient and, while there are chain stores in the area, there are still enough privately owned restaurants and not-too-expensive boutiques, coffee houses and bookstores to make it feel a wee bit less suburban than most of the rest of the Valley. And all this wonderfulness? Is within walking distance for anyone who is willing to use their feet for locomotion.

Much of this has come about over the last decade. I live on the edge of an affluent area, but it's close enough to a not-so-affluent area that one can see the influence of near-by gangs, though that influence has been waning in recent years. Perhaps because the city and the neighborhood have been working on building up the formerly run-down place (and trust me, when I first moved here in '93, that area in question was very much run-down, though my immediate neighborhood has always been nice), turning it into streets lined with shops and restaurants, live theatres and art galleries. There's more work to be done, but nonetheless, it's been exciting to watch.

It's even more exciting when I take a stroll around the neighborhood, because I am constantly discovering new things. Things that I tell myself to remember the next time I might want to try a new restaurant or need a florist. Places that I would never notice were I still to have a car, because I, like so many other people in this fair city, would drive right by it on my way to Someplace Else.

So yeah, it would be a good thing for me to have a car again, for many reasons. But there's no denying that not having a car has helped me to discover this neighborhood in which I live. And there's no bad in that.

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Carol/Female/36-40. Lives in United States/California/Los Angeles/San Fernando Valley, speaks English. Spends 40% of daytime online. Uses a Normal (56k) connection.
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