counting driveways

I walked up my street today for the first time in years. It’s a big hill, our street, a straight shot up to the beginning of the San Gabriel Mountains.

I love walking. I tread the muddy roads of a fishing village for a year, didn’t think twice of clomping down to town and then hiking back up the hill to Hotel Brio several times daily–a sweaty, muddy adventure; yet, for some reason, I haven’t walked up my own street–paved and suburban–in years.

I think I used to walk up and down it a lot. The sis, Dad, and I walked to elementary school every day–up the hill and around the corner–and we walked down the hill to art class and sleepovers at my friend’s house. My friend seemed like she lived so far because her house was past the first stop sign. My mom’s friend lived at the stop sign, and we walked to that house a lot. I remember once, my mom and I were squatting on the curb, waiting for something, and I asked her how many rainbow driveways there were on our street. (A rainbow driveway is defined as a driveway with two entrances, as opposed to those straight-shot, out and back driveways.) I was–still am–biased towards the rainbow driveways, but perhaps that’s because our house sits behind a black cement rainbow arch. They seemed symmetrical, sensical; seemed to flow.

She didn’t know how many rainbow driveways there were on our street. Well, how many do you think there are? I asked. She paused. Twenty–how many do you think there are? she asked, and there I was stuck. Twenty seemed like the perfect number. I knew from playing the ‘pick a number from-one-to-ten’ game with my dad that you always chose a number directly above or below your opponent. So… nineteen or twenty-one? I didn’t know. 19 seemed too few. 21 seemed too many. I don’t remember which one I ended up choosing, but twenty always seemed like the right number–of course there would be twenty.

Today, I dropped my car off for servicing at the 76 Station, less than a mile away from home, hovered for a moment to see if it was worth my while to wait it out, and then decided to just walk home. Mid-afternoon, mid-seventies, and sunny, my exhaustion melted into the nuance of walking, of seeing familiar territory exposed by a different movement; of a progression that correlated directly with output.

Traveling in a car, on the other hand, enjoys no correlation between energy output and movement. Crawling traffic or seventy miles an hour–neither feel quite natural. I now find myself commuting to downtown LA four mornings a week for a rather mundane part-time job that pays me next to nothing, yet that puts me smack dab in the middle of my professional mecca. It’s neat. (Neat like neat-o, not tidy.) My identification badge doesn’t label me as an editorial assistant–it just says ‘Editorial,’ same as every other reporter, editor, and writer, high and low, corner office and basement cubicle.

It  does feel like I’m in some sort of epicenter, wandering below skyscrapers and past bustling businessmen in suitable suits. Downtown LA has energy, normally noisy honking but occasionally sweet and subtle. This morning, I glided down the hill in foggy darkness–today’s shift starts at 6:30–wound along a mountain freeway in soft grey, crawled behind red brake lights up a narrow freeway exchange, glided through Chinatown in uncommitted cloudy blue. I walked out of the parking garage and turned left on Spring Street at 6:25 a.m. The sun slanted over the buildings, dawning.

Six hours later, I hurtled up our street, frustrated because of uncontrollable yellow-brown traffic (caused by the overlap of a famous-person funeral procession and a Dodger’s game, but there’s always a cause). I hurtled away from the epicenter, up the hill, and the rainbow driveways melted into the straight ones, undistinguishable out a car window.

After I had dropped my car off and started walking home, it occurred to me, already a third of the way up the street, that this was the time. That I should count the curved, two-ended driveways–today! So, I started counting, but found it to be a little tricky. Some driveways curve in rotunda-like round-abouts, but don’t technically have two-ends–what category were they in? Some can’t even be classified as driveways–short, stubby things that don’t even have room for a pair of cars. Some are grand, loping cement byways, descending down into the bowels of a home, never to be seen again. Apparently driveways on my street come in more than two varieties. I found myself distracted by details, obvious and obscure. Peeling paint and bright lawn sets. Toys strewn in a front yard. 4789’s flowers are bursting. There’s a life-sized plastic horse in the corridor between 4890’s house and their neighbor’s fence. Everyone’s flowers are bursting, actually. It’s spring, and it smells like spring.

So, I didn’t count them, and that seemed an appropriate way to leave it–in the logic that there would be twenty, rainbow driveways; uncounted.


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