Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How I get through

How do other people commute for an hour and half each way every weekday for their entire lives? This question occurs to me a lot as I drive to my internship from Orange County to Studio City five days a week.

After I think about it for a second, I realize that people don't commute for an hour and a half each way every weekday for their entire lives. That's just me. Or half of it's me. It's only for the next few weeks.

Still, it makes me feel a sense of entitlement when I'm on the road, a feeling like "I've been here longer, I deserve to get in the fastest lane" or "Hey, you can't cut me off. I've already been on the road for an hour!" These feelings get so strong and debilitating that I often condescend to making loud squealing noises every time something displeases me on the road. That's my version of road rage. I don't scream or give people the finger, I just make loud noises like a cat whose tail has just been stepped on.

But throughout all the toils of driving to and fro day to day, week to week, month to month, there are lights at the end of the tunnel...And I'd like to tell you a few of them.

This is for my reference and for the reference of anyone who has to travel long distances to work, battling against others to prevent oneself from arriving late to the office or not having time to shower before dinner (seriously, these are the troubles I face and I'm sick of them). They serve as a reminder that even in the most excruciating of circumstances, with just a little bit of optimism you can feel 100 percent better.

When I knew I would be driving into work on an interminably trafficked set of freeways this summer, I knew that I needed to properly equip myself to counteract the feeling of lost sanity. That's when I made my iPod playlist.

I compiled 200 songs that I knew could 1. Keep me awake for two hours 2. Never allow me to tire of them 3. Make me want to dance in my car - a welcome distraction when I have to be sitting still for two hours.

And finally make me remember that sitting in traffic isn't the end of the world. Even though sometimes - more often than not - it feels that way.

My playlist has The Beatles and A Goofy Movie,The Supremes and All Time Low. It's a mish-mosh with some of the best ballads in history (i.e. "A Beautiful Mess," Jason Mraz) to the most overenthusiastic pop anthems (i.e. "Halfway Around the World," A*Teens).

And even in moments that I feel like screaming with the tension of a long commute - and admittedly this happens more often than it should - I can drown my thoughts and my concern in the sounds of the varied playlist.

So that covers the drive itself, but I have to say that if I didn't come home to comfort I'd never set off in the first place. Especially what with the anxious screeching I perpetrate day to day.

What is it that has me happy, even excited, to come home every night? What reminds me that perhaps evenings aren't just a time for showering, writing a blog and sleeping the night away?

My dad, that's what. Or who, rather.

Though he works a full day and a late evening, when he's home at night his first thought is at how to treat the both of us. Tonight, he was home only minutes before me, but by the time I walked through the door he'd already started on dinner. I marvel at his patience (a trait that has apparently not been passed on genetically) and his willingness to accommodate (also not a family trait), even after the stress of a long day.

And I rejoice at having a father who makes my anxious nights into comfortable ones.

Tonight was no exception. After trying my best to get around traffic and still only arriving home 10 minutes early, I broke down and needed a hug from my dad. What consistency and what music can never do for me, is what my dad does so easily. Embrace and remind me that even though it may feel like forever, my commute isn't the same as what others might deal with on a day to day basis "forever" (or for as long as they keep a job and their living quarters far away). Eventually my anxiety will be behind me.

Through this experiences I've learned a lot about my patience. For driving, for repetition, for people. But I've also learned about my failures, and how it's often the people sitting right next to us at dinner who we need most when we've lost the ability to control our own patience.

I have my dad. And if I ever wonder how people handle anything longer than an hour commute again, I know I've found my answer. They have the love and support of somebody wonderful as well.

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