Cruising by the Car Show

Red hot rodOver the weekend, the Cute-Little-Red-Headed-Girlfriend and I went to a car show on the east side of L.A. This particular show was highlighting hot rods, but there were other types of cars on display as well. In particular, we saw a number of classic cars from the 30s. While we walked around the cordoned off streets where the cars were on display, a car-themed soundtrack played over loudspeakers.

I'm not an automobile enthusiast, but I feel connected to car culture from having been brought up in Los Angeles. I've toyed with the idea of buying a vintage car before, but never taken it past the fantasy stage. Practicality tends to win out with me when it comes to transportation. Nonetheless, I admire the way car customizers rebuild and remake vehicles according to their personal vision.

The Cute Little Red-Headed Girlfriend said to me as we walked around, "There's so much love that goes into these cars." I know it sounds kind of hippy-dippy to say so, but I did feel like I could feel the affection the owners had for their cars and for their community of fellow car lovers. Like many other enthusiast communities, the car customizers appeared to have adopted several causes and were trying to raise money for them while they enjoyed themselves at the show.

Chevy Bel Air dashboardEarlier this year, I moved from the west side of Los Angeles to the east side. My intention was to move someplace where I wouldn't have to drive as much. I was tired of dealing with the gridlock on the west side, and rising gas prices also factored into my thinking. Using Walk Score, I was able to evaluate neighborhoods to determine which ones would enable me to walk more and drive less.

Since moving, I have cut down on driving a great deal, and it's improved my quality of life tremendously. This change in my daily habits was on my mind as I viewed the cars on exhibit. And it's not just me that has made a change. Slowly, Los Angeles is developing a public transportation backbone. It's inadequate, yes. But it's far enough along that one can begin to imagine the city as something other than car-dependent.

It's strange to feel nostalgic for something--a car, a lifestyle, a time in history--and at the same time recognize that thing's faults. It's odd to feel love for something you know will never come back. I have great attachment to certain stretches of highway in Los Angeles. Trajectories of speed and scenery that can only be experienced by car. Time and traffic have rewritten those roads, and slowness has erased their magic. I'm choosing to look forward to whatever comes to take their place.