Los Angeles Veins


One of the trademarks of SNL's The Californians sketch is the constant, meaningless jibber jabber about traffic and freeways and alternate routes. It's one of those things that you don't realize you do until people start making fun of it. Ever since then, I've always felt stupid about every traffic-related tweet I've put out and continue to put out. I can't help it. Here in Southern California, traffic is a way of life. It's bigger than everything. We shape our lives around it, and any way we can circumvent its massive gravity is a victory that delays our final unmourned grave. It's that serious. It feels as if I've spent a third of my 20s in LA traffic.

In an effort to perhaps exorcise my person of all traffic-related thoughts and ideas, I've decided to indulge completely in the art of traffic ruminations. If New Yorkers can write endless poems, short stories and personal essays about sitting on the subway, why can't we do the same about inching half a mile in 30 minutes? Surely there's a way to do it that isn't as excruciating as the real experience. Someone out there must be able to romanticize it into something less Californian and obnoxious.

For me, personally, my traffic life as been shaped by 3 major freeways branching out from my ocean-adjacent home base: California State Route 91, Interstate 110 and the San Diego 405. Highways draw activity and life, the way trade routes and rivers once did, but they lack the character of their predecessors. The 110 has no special power or significance in its uniform concrete the way the Mississippi river does — unless you give it one, as defined by the function it serves in your life. My reasons have never been especially meaningful, but they've been significant to my life as a 20-something, marking different chapters the way moving out of your childhood home does.

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