When I received a job offer in LA, I packed my '04 Scion XB to the brim and hugged my mom goodbye. I made the move myself in the same car I drove for my driving test. Although my car was a three-time hand-me-down with a broken taillight, it was mine, and that's all that mattered.
With barely any income to live off, it was nearly impossible to find my own place in LA. I’ve had my fair share of undesirable living situations, but none like this before. There was the bitter old woman in Pico-Robertson that liked to call me names, making me feel uncomfortable and unwelcome in what was supposed to be my home. There was the artistic Hollywood apartment with the freeloading musicians that moved into our living room while I was away for a week. There was the Del Mar central living room in a tiny apartment with an older woman that worked from home and didn’t allow junk food into the house unless it was hidden away. And now there’s my apartment in West Hollywood with two beautiful women that mostly pretend I don’t exist, only speak to each other in Russian, and make me pay all of the utilities.
In LA, I struggled with my work and only found a few friends. Anyone that moves from home will tell you that it’s difficult and lonely, that sometimes you wonder whether you made the right choice and whether it would be better to move back home to where you know you belong.
My car was my own little slice of home throughout it all. When I felt unwelcome in an apartment, I would park my car on the street and mooch off of the wifi there if it would reach. I would eat meals in my car when there was no table at the apartment and no way to avoid an antagonistic roommate. I would call my mom once the engine was off to cry about how bad work was or how unhappy I was because that’s where nobody else could hear. My box of tissues was my forever passenger and my car was the one constant in the loop of moving from one sublease to another.
With my mom’s leftover CDs and my high school mittens buried deep in the glove compartment that I used to wear on winter mornings, my car reminded me of comfort and stability. It felt like my only sanctuary in the crowded city. I made the rules, I could use it whenever I wanted, and it allowed me to go wherever I pleased. It was the only thing that was mine and mine only, 320 miles from Tracy, California.
But then on Halloween, in the blink of an eye, an accident took away my solace. And because of another driver's carelessness, my car was unsalvageable.
It's been hard to remain positive after that. I know I was lucky to have that car in the first place. I'm also lucky to live to tell this story. But the loss still weighs heavy.
And public transportation isn’t terrible, but I miss my car. I miss feeling like I had a piece of home all to myself in this faraway city.
No permanent settlement can replace that feeling.