Escaping Los Angeles

by Greta Gavrisheff

“Pete’s office, hold please, Pete’s office, hold please, Pete’s office, hold please, hi, thanks for holding…” My arms do a spaghetti like dance as I juggle the phone against my ear while pressing various buttons and simultaneously maneuvering through a cyberspace of logged in appointments.

At any moment, I half expect to hear someone asking for the TPS reports.  Red lights blink on the buttons with varying intensity until the names that go along with them elude me. I throw boiling, bitter brown liquid down my throat only to cringe, cough and sputter as I try to answer the next call. “Pete’s (cough) office, (cough) hold please.”

The concrete jungle of parked metal is a welcome sight as the elevator ‘dings’ to the lowest floor. I can never really remember which level my transportation is on, so I may as well start on the bottom and walk up. The BMWs are parked diagonally across their spaces and a grain of my being secretly wishes my car were nice enough to park like an asshole. I feel almost good as I wave my special secret card in front of the large bar that lets cool people in and out for free. Left turns are horrible. I use my blinker; I edge out; I back up when I see the bus coming fast, the top sways back and forth in the wind like a crazy drunk grandmother racing with her walker down the sidewalk.  I edge out again. BEEP BEEP. One of the BMW’s that I am nowhere near is driving “defensively.” Finally, out in traffic, I’m on the way home.

Here, two cars can turn left on red. There is always a third that tries to sneak in; they pretend not to notice that the first car even existed and usually miss ending at least two lives by inches. I am the second car turning left. At least two cars always run the red light. So, blinker on, talk radio droning in the background, I make my left. BEEP BEEP; I brace for the sound of crunching glass and crunching bones as a third car inevitably runs the light. We both swerve and manage to avoid sudden death.

Finally within the safety of my home street, I sidle up to the comforting curb. There is an expanse of empty unparked curb space ahead of me. It takes me until I am turning the key in my apartment door to realize that the city pays men to sweep that side of the street in the morning. As I step  onto the sidewalk, I am accosted by two little furry gremlins attached to their owner by a leash. They bounce and yip and bounce. I side step and my arms wave in a wind-mill motion as I narrowly avoid smooshing them with my sharp heels. “Uh, watch out,” the West Hollywood ‘man’ in black mesh waves his arms back at me. He is adorned with plastic poop bags and he looks like a crazy asylum escapee…with a tan, and nice legs.

Four times around the block and I finally park, on the other side of the street. Déjà vu up the stairs again. The girls below me are engaged in a verbal fistfight with their significant others. The sharp words float up through the floor and make my feet tingle. I throw my keys on the counter with a sharp clank and turn on the television. “America’s Next Top Model” strides onto the screen. She looks hard at the camera and I look hard at her.

Hot water steams, rising. It is soft against the hard white of the porcelain. Along with my clothes, I shed the day. Once naked, I am new.  I slide, toe nails first into the depths of warmth. Ankles, calves, knees. Once sitting, I allow my arms to sink. I tilt my head back and close my eyes and slide down. I escape the sound, the sight, the breathe of Los Angeles. I escape beneath my waves.

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