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.
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.