Part of being in LA is having the freedom to roam where you please, to be limited by nothing more than the price of gas and the congestion of the freeways. Perhaps it is for this reason that I find riding the LA Metro to be so intriguing. It's where businesspeople, students, punk rockers, rockabillies, tattooed scary guys, ballers and old ladies mix -- sometimes rather snugly -- in the name of giving up this heralded Los Angeles tradition of transportive freedom.
That's what's so crazy about riding the Metro to and from work: watching how LA folks give up their freedom to ride in confined spaces. You can't squeeze LA into a box, but when you do, strange things happen.
A young man walks into the metro. He says, "Excuse me." I look up. He blows me a kiss. Then he gets off at the next stop. Not even a goodbye, an amended version of "Wham, bam, thank you ma'am, perhaps?" Who knows.
Sometimes you feel like you're in a movie, like you're watching the scenery pan between shots. There is a man with his face covered in a black tattoo. A woman seated, with nothing better to look at, asks him what the tattoo means to him. He is all to happy to reply, his female companion elated, that it represents "my soul." The rest of us listening, pretending not to listen.
Then there are the crazy people. Let's not forget them. It happens. Asleep on the train. Loud on the train. Talking to themselves on the train. Strange grooming on the train. Lecherous looks -- and gestures -- on the train. It reminds you that, no matter what part of this city you live in, these less glamorous elements are a part of you.
You also see those attempting to mirror the glitz and glamour of this town -- cheap replicas of designer shoes, makeup falling off where it should be sticking on, rip-offs of designer t-shirts, hipsters trying to look like they don't care -- with varying degrees of success. After all, what would LA be without the specter of Hollywood glamour?
So when you cram all of that into metal boxes hurling towards each other underground, with varying degrees of air circulation and timeliness, you get some curious existential moments. You sit on the Metro, look around, and smile to yourself. This is what freedom looks like when it's given up for a few moments, an anxious, fidgety mess, ready to break back out into the world at any minute.