“We can make it! We can make it! C’mon, babe. We can make it!”
For nearly six miles I was chanting this to the steering wheel of my car, yesternight. I was caressing it, leaning my flushed cheek bones against its drying leather. And when no one was looking, I even planted a peck onto it, with my semi-dehydrated lips:
“We can make it!”
I suspected this would happen: I had waited till the very last moment — again! — to refill my gas tank. And now, I was running late to a rehearsal — again! — with my gas light on: AGAIN!
“God damn it!” I would have sworn normally as I sensed the neon yellow light on my dashboard, out of the corner of my eye. “I should’ve done this last night!”
But that night, I was exhausted, thinking only of the sleepiness, somewhere in my calves and feet; and of trying to not run outta gas — again.
And now, I was sitting in traffic on a congested side street someone had recommended to me as a shortcut against, um, well… traffic. But that’s what happens quite a bit: Other people’s shortcuts — turn into my hell.
So, I would much rather just keep taking my own routes; doing it my own way.
But then, yesternight, I was running late — again.
So, I attempted to surrender: “We can make it!”
I had already done THE work, by then: Five hours — GONE out of my day! Grateful! Of course, I was grateful — for being able to do it. But fitting in THE work every day always required two things: lack of sleep and brutal discipline toward the rest of my life.
And then, of course, there was the survival hustle: Chalk up another three hours to that! But I have long surrendered to that already, because I am the one who chose this destiny, this route. I am the one who rejected a myriad of day jobs and hustled to get herself out of the drudgery of the restaurant business, as well. I am the one who agreed to the chronic pain-in-the-ass-ness of a freelancer’s life. I am the one continuously taking — and building — my own ways. Because only then, do I have enough dignity and space — for THE work.
And now, I was dashing across town: To do more work.
Okay, maybe I wasn’t dashing: I was crawling, dragging my ass through the overheated, exhausted streets of LA-LA. I was serving my time among others with their stories of pursuits, and with exhaustion written all over their drooping faces. And while doing so, I was resisting every urge to curse out the retirees existing in their own timezones inside their oversized Lexuses:
“Why aren’t you moving?!” I’d usually flail while studying the trail of break lights ahead of me. Normally, there is no rhyme or reason for it: only the collision of other people’s timezones. And I have to remember that they too have done their work that day: THE work.
So, I attempt to surrender: “We can make it!”
The side street finally opened into a giant boulevard. We flooded onto it, and the people coexisting in my timezone took over the outer lanes — and we got going.
But then: My gas light came on.
God damn it!
I immediately remembered the poor sucker in a Porsche who got stuck in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard, the night before. I had been sitting in traffic, on a congested side street, waiting to merge. Because that’s what happens quite a bit: My shortcuts collide with the shortcuts of others; and we have no choice but to obey each other’s timezones.
“But why aren’t we moving?!” I kept thinking and trying to see ahead of the red trail of break lights. Surely, there was no rhyme or reason for it!
Not until we flooded into the intersection, did I notice the Porsche owner sweating, swearing, cursing out the honking drivers, as he refilled his tank with a portable plastic canister. A Porsche outta gas: Times must be tough, I thought.
And we kept on crawling, yesternight. We kept on — serving time.
Some of us had already done THE work. Others just hustled to survive.
So, I attempted to surrender: “We can make it, surely! We can make it! All of us!”
And I would make it, not just to a gas station, but to my favorite one. I would pull up behind a tired, droopy face of a young man who stared into space above the rooftop of his vintage Volvo. He would forget to close the flap on the side of his car, and I would honk. He waved, pulled out masterfully and waved again. Thank goodness, there were people coexisting in my timezone.
“We can make it, babe!” I kept chanting.
Forty on six.
Have a good night.
You too, babe.
The nearness of humanity outside the plastic bodies of our cars was beginning to soothe me. The whiff of gas followed the short-stop pumping sound of the pipes. I began staring ahead, above the rooftop of my car.
“Um…” I heard.
An older man with smirking eyes and crooked yellow teeth was standing next to me, while clutching a ten dollar bill.
“Could you help me out?” he said.
Behind me, he parked his ride, blocking my way: A giant black Benz of a recent make.
“A Benz outta gas,” I thought. “Times must be tough!”
His story would be about money. About Vegas — and losing all of it, to the hustle.
Times must be tough, I thought. But we can make it, babe: All of us!