Upon entering the drug store and turning the corner, I found myself staring at the shutters, stretched across the pharmacy countertop. I walked back to my car with a frustrated, dejected feeling, blaming myself for not checking the open hours before leaving the house. It was an optimistic, last-minute trip right before work, when time was most precious. 

illustration of shuttered pharmacy counter with sorry we're closed sign posted

It was foolish to be spontaneous. Traveling anywhere in Los Angeles without a plan – even on routine trips – is a gamble. Scanning online reviews from three different sites and stalking Street View for two hours before leaving the house makes simple sense.

It wasn’t always this way. There was a time when I didn’t own a smart phone or know what the place looked like until I arrived. I received awful directions from several strangers: the gas station attendant, the customer at the gas pump next to me, the drug store employee. Eventually, I arrived to where I wanted to go, late and flustered. Why would I want to go back to that?

In getting lost, though, I was forced to “explore” and make wrong turns. I absorbed the street signs and landmarks around me. I took notice of my surroundings and committed parts my trip to memory. I was continually optimistic about the people I approached for help along the way.

Sometimes, I miss the optimism.