Downtown

I have taken the metro in Paris, the subway in New York, and BART in Northern California. But until recently, I’m not sure I even really knew L.A. had a working subway system, and I certainly had never ridden it.
But, tomorrow I have an important(!) appointment in the heart of downtown, smack dab at the tail of rush hour. I had driven to the same location a week ago, and in the middle of the afternoon, it had taken me about 35 minutes to get there. However, driving home during rush hour, I was on the road for about an hour and a half. Welcome to the glories of living in beautiful Southern California! We have arguably the greatest weather in the country, and I love living here, but our traffic totally sucks. And because I don’t dare arrive at this appointment late, and really don’t want to get there an hour early, as I did last week, I decided to consider using our local rapid transit system.
Because I am a newbie at this, and wanted to eliminate at least this source of anxiety about my meeting, I contemplated making a trial run. So, I jumped at the offer from my parents to make it an outing over Thanksgiving weekend. We joked that it was like them teaching their special needs daughter how to walk to school on the first day. But I didn’t decline when my dad mapped out our route, and handed me a pass with $3 loaded on it.
Yesterday, we traveled from my house in the Valley to North Hollywood station. My dad announced that he was serving only as a backup safety net, in case we were to make a wrong move, but that my stepmother and I were in charge of getting us to our destination, and he appointed Marge as the leader. We descended into the station, and I was surprised to note that it was very crowded, and looked much like the NY subway I was familiar with. We quickly found our train, and within a minute or two, we jumped on, and were on our way.
We traveled from North Hollywood on the red line to the 7th Street Metro station, about a 24 minute ride. The train was very noisy and crowded, and went underground the whole route, which surprised Marge, who had looked forward to watching the scenery as we rode. During the ride, I studied the map and declared myself leader, noting the stations as we passed them. We exited at 7th Street, loaded up our passes with more money, and transferred to the blue line for one stop, exiting at Pico.
There we were, in the heart of downtown L.A. The sights and smells were unfamiliar to me. Even as a native Angelino, I have spent very little time downtown. It’s like a completely different city from my suburban life, but there is definitely something exciting and lively about it. The walk from the train station was about 2 blocks, and we all marveled at how the scenery seemed to switch from gritty urban to newly gentrified back to gritty urban, all within a couple of blocks.
After we found the target location for the appointment, we decided to bypass the transfer station and walk back to 7th Street. Again, we passed new and upscale loft buildings, and then condemned and boarded up businesses that had seen better days. As a young woman I had fantasized about living in New York City, and for a few minutes I wondered what it would be like to live in downtown L.A. But I realized after a few minutes that I would always want outdoor space, not just for me but for my pups, and at this stage in my life, I wouldn’t want to give up the comforts of easy parking and a patch of yard.
But it could be exciting to spend more time downtown in my own city. Whether this appointment leads me to that or not, I think I will make it a point to do more exploring downtown, and will definitely use the convenience of our local transit to get me there. For tomorrow’s meeting, I’m even going to ride the Orange Line, two minutes from my house, to the train station. And, I’ll be doing this trip solo, so wish me luck!
The end, for now

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