When you live in L.A. you spend A LOT of time sitting in traffic.
As a New Yorker who is hard-wired to move as quickly as possible and not waste a single second, this used to make me insane.
I’d sit there silently seething, calculating how many precious minutes I’d lost that day. Doing. NOTHING. All the while giving death stares (behind dark sunglasses) to every idiot driver who dared look my way. Uh, problem?!! Stupid L.A. drivers. Hate you.
Now I try to use this time productively, mostly by making plans. I’m a chronic planner.
I’ll plan what I’m going to buy later at the supermarket. Or what I’ll do over the weekend. What movie I should go see. Or even ponder what is my best means for escape should my tiny westside apartment ever go up in flames while I sleep.
|I'd finally die fat and alone. And be found three weeks later, half-eaten by dogs.|
See, I have this fear I’ll die in an awful, stupid way. Or worse, alone. In my “cozy” (Craigslist for damn tiny) L.A. apartment. With no means for escape. Gasping for air.
Thing is I have two windows in my whole apartment, which open left to right, rather than up and down. But they only open A MERE TWO INCHES on either side. And the screens behind them don’t open at all. It’s a real fire hazard! If a fire were to break out, climbing through the window for safety isn’t an option. I can’t stick my head out the window to breathe let alone try to slide my healthy ass through a two inch crack.
What I needed was a plan, which I began to hatch as I sat in traffic on my way home.
I’ll run out the front door. That’s the obvious solution. OK, yeah, but what if I’m asleep and the fire has spread?! I’ll have to run through my bedroom and the living room to reach that door. Through a fiery blaze! I’ll sustain serious burns, there’s no way around it. After careful thought, I decided that I could live with that. I wanted to survive.
But I am going to run really, really fast. And cover my face. I prefer my face didn’t get burned. It’s hard enough to get dates in L.A. I don’t need an additional challenge.
|I'm a real good person.|
As I pictured myself explaining to a future suitor why I was wearing a turtleneck in August, a cop suddenly appeared to pull me back to reality. He explained the stretch of road ahead, which included my street block, was closed due to a bomb threat.
Ah c'mon dude, seriously?! I’M TIRED. I JUST WANT TO GO HOME.
Slightly annoyed, I parked a few blocks away and proceeded to walk to my apartment only to be stopped by yet another officer. Turns out the bomb threat was down the block from my place and I wasn’t allowed anywhere near there. At this point the bomb squad arrived and all my nosy neighbors gathered around to watch the action. Then one of them pointed out the source of all the excitement: See that red suitcase? They think it might be a bomb. That one. RIGHT THERE. HANDCUFFED TO THAT POLE.
Wait. What? As I turned to look, it slowly starts...to…hit….me.
|A bomb is made to explode. That's its meaning. Its purpose.|
Bomb = Big Explosion = FIRE = Me running through fiery blaze. Covering my face.
Oh my God, I don’t want to die! I need to get out of here. Right now! Let these bitches stand around here, yards away from a bomb, and burn if they want. Not. Me.
I want to live. I want to SURVIVE.
|What. Do. You. Do.|
I decided to seek shelter at nearby coffeeshop until the situation blew over. But I wanted to stop by my apartment first and grab my laptop. So I convinced a neighbor to let me cut through her house to reach the back alley entrance of my building.
Once inside my place, I breathed a bit easier. And I happen to gaze over at my bed, so cozy and inviting, and wondered for a second if there was time for a short nap before the explosion. A shady voice inside snapped: uh hello. Fiery blaze. You sleeping. Ring a bell?!
Oh shit, yeah, I gotta go. So I grabbed my laptop and took one final look around.
This place ain’t so bad, I thought. I mean, apart from the windows not opening and the poor air circulation. Its been a safe haven for me out here in Los Angeles. A place for me to decompress, unwind and refuel at the end of a long, hard day. I’m going to miss it. Then, I turned and left, wondering if I’d ever see my tiny death trap again.
Needless to say, the bomb never went off . And I returned a few short hours later.
I’m happy here. Plus, I've got a plan now in case of a fire. So I'll survive.
Thankful to be alive. Thankful to still have a home. And thankful to be back in my damn cozy apartment with the annoying windows that open a mere two inches.
MOVIE STILLS & QUOTABLES:
1. BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY (2001) Writers: Helen Fielding, Andrew Davies, Richard Curtis
2. MONSTER (2003) Writer: Patty Jenkins
3. SPEED (1994) Writer: Graham Yost