Day Dates In Los Angeles
“A sip of wine, a cigarette, And then it’s time to go. I tidied up the kitchenette; I tuned the old banjo. I’m wanted at the traffic-jam. They’re saving me a seat.” Leonard Cohen
L.A. is a car city. Most people drive; whether it’s to work or to grab a coffee at the Starbucks down the street. It doesn’t matter if your office is in walking distance, you’ll hop in your car to get there. Since everyone drives everywhere, LA traffic can turn a quick trip into a long commute.
Los Angeles had the world’s worst traffic in 2016 beating out Moscow for the top spot in the rankings released by traffic firm INRIX. According to the survey, Los Angeles motorists spent an average of 104 hours stuck in traffic last year. The worst traffic day is Friday.
I moved to the Venice Marina Del Rey area last summer if you did not read my sad moving blogs. My friends and family live on the other side of the 405 freeway. This means that the city’s congestion now confines me to my own area on week day evenings. Local neighborhoods have had to become more self-sufficient with interesting restaurants, bars, cultural and recreational sources as more and more people do not want to sit in traffic to go out at night.
It’s traditional to make plans with people at night. I tried when I first moved here to continue to meet people during the week. “I’ll be there in twenty minutes,” I would say when I was in standstill traffic and knew it would be at least an hour. I would have to leave at four o clock for a seven o clock dinner. A two-hour dinner in town became a five-hour dinner with traffic and parking.
I began to only accept invitations to things I had to do – celebrations, rock concerts and a few events. I stopped going to the theatre, ballet and gallery openings downtown on week nights. All these things were available on weekends. I started to stay home on weekday evenings unless people wanted to drive to the beach or at least to my side of the 405. I blamed it on my puppy’s anxiety (which is sad but true). My friend’s and family did not want to make the drive here after the first new house inspection. Guys will do it.
Recently I started making day dates with my friends on the other side of the 405 and the east side of town. If you go to a movie in a crowded mall on an afternoon, the theatre is empty. You can park on the first level and not spend a half hour getting out of the parking lot. The ridiculously crowded restaurants have plenty of space available. The concession stand is empty and will even make a fresh batch of popcorn or pot of coffee if you ask nicely. There are no lines for the bathroom. I do the weekend theatre matinees downtown and have an early dinner to try a trendy downtown restaurant. Weekend brunches are my best friend though as it gets closer to the summer the traffic near the beach will be a problem. Lunch dates always work. My friends aren’t thrilled with the new arrangement but they are doing it and agree it is relaxing and fun.
I am no longer losing entire days of my life sitting in traffic. There are plenty of other things I can do with those 104 hours.