All my friends started getting their driver’s permits in 10th grade. By then, I had been dealing with my vision problems for five years.By then I was sitting in the front row in class and wasn’t able to see the board. Even though we hadn’t figured out my issue, it was pretty obvious: I wasn’t getting my driver’s license. Fast forward 11 years. I am now 26, 4.5 years out of college, and 4.5 years into learning how to live independently in a big urban sprawl that is Los Angeles.

Google Maps and LA METRO are my best friends and the banes of my existence. Traffic is mean and uber co-riders are inconsiderate. I’ve seen parts of LA only pedestrians can see, and I’ve smelled them too! It’s a love/hate relationship I’ve fostered with this lifestyle. I used to feel stuck and angry all the time because it was never a choice to be car-less in LA. I didn’t choose this life, and I wished things were different. But alas. THIS IS MY LIFE, whether I liked it or not. Sometime in 2015, abut a year out of college, I realized how wrongly I had been viewing my situation. I don’t have a driver’s license, and so I don’t need to spend money on a car, insurance, gas, spend stress on traffic and finding parking, and most importantly, contribute to global warming, gosh darnit.

Thanks to my inability to drive, I’ve developed a relationship with the city that’s not much better than it was before honestly, but it’s definitely more intimate and gnarlier than it is for most. I’m rubbing shoulders with all kinds of people, places, smells, and sights from the west to the east, and as much as I still hate it, as much as I still get annoyed when the bus drives right past me, I wouldn’t be the person I am now were it not for the amount of busses I’ve taken home at 12:30am and the amount of miles I’ve walked to avoid waiting for the second bus.

How It Works

I take the bus, I Uber or Lyft, I ask for rides, I walk a ton. I get by. I can’t say I’ve figured out a perfect system. Since I don’t work a 9-5, my freelance, part-time, creative schedule is ever changing, taking me to all parts of the city for a day’s worth of work and projects. I ca'n’t really be spontaneous, because I need to plan my journey based on the bus schedule or when I need to call an Uber.

I pack my backpack with everything I could possibly need from the moment I leave the house to whenever I’ll be getting back home, whether it will be that afternoon, or two nights of couchsurfing later. But alas, I can’t pack everything, for my back is one of the worst backs around (thank you genetics!), so I’ve learned to minimalize and adapt.

But I’m still learning. I generally have time to kill between appointments,and since I don’t have a car where I can go hide, I have to park up at a coffee shop or cafe to seek some shelter where I have to spend money for a roof over my head. It’s not ideal. Maybe I’ll find parks where I can kill time at instead? bring my own lunchbox? bring my own coldbrew?

note to self: never, ever forget your portable charger. geez, when will you learn!!!