On October 15th, 2006,
Driving West on I-10 freeway,
after the meeting in Crenshaw and going to the coffee shop in West LA,
suddenly, my car stops its engine.
It was around Fairfax where it curves slightly to the left.
I managed to stop my car at the middle island,
didn’t know what to do for a couple minutes.
I didn’t have a place to live at that time.
I was couch-surfing, staying at Echo Park.
Working on a feature film,
I chose my life to do what I want to do.
I didn’t chose to work for a company.
I decided to join a feature film project.
We shot the film, edited the file,
But it took us very long time to sell the film.
Yet, I still had to go to Film Festivals.
I decided to save money.
I decided to leave the apartment, and couch-surf around friends’ places.
I no longer sleep on the bed.
It was all about filmmaking.
To do what I want to do.
It was February 28th, 2006.
After a half year trying to sell a film,
There was still no luck.
On October 2006,
I drove from LA to San Diego for 3 days in a row
to attend a film festival
because I didn’t have money to stay in a hotel.
After abusing my very first car, on October 15th, 2006…
My car died on the I-10 freeway.
Being stuck in a lifeless car on a freeway,
Waiting for a tow truck,
I felt nothing.
It was around 7pm,
I made a couple phone call.
A tow truck came,
I had a friend who owned a car mechanic in South Central.
I took my car there.
The mechanic was already gone,
left the car in the parking lot.
I was left alone in the dark of South Central LA.
I called my other friend to pick me up.
The 30 minutes outside the street.
I felt nothing.
I didn’t know what to do.
My friend came and picked me up.
I thought he was just taking me to my “couch” at the time in Echo Park.
“Hey, Katz, do you want to check out this new coffee shop in Downtown?”
He took me to a coffee shop around Main St on 4th.
We talked about nothing.
We talked like I didn’t lose my car.
It was like
we met and hang out like any other ordinary day.
I couldn’t really get rid of the feeling of loss.
He suggested we took a walk on downtown LA.
If I have to live without a car,
let’s feel how it’s like.
It was around 9pm at night.
We departed the coffee shop on 4th and Main,
Walked towards Olive.
It was very first time that I walked on downtown LA after living 10 years.
I got to know that downtown LA is actually a hill.
Some of the slope was very steep.
We reached 4th and Olive, and saw the elevator of California Plaza.
The elevator was not operating,
but we walked up the elevator into the California Plaza,
Passed the Water Court. It’s quiet.
I remembered coming to this plaza when I was renewing my Japanese passport.
The different face of downtown LA.
We hopped into Grand Avenue,
heading to Southwest towards Staple Center,
Turned right onto Hope Place.
At the corner, there was staircase next to the US Bank Tower.
I always wanted to walk along that stair for no reason.
I was finally able to step down the stair for the first time.
Illuminated with thousands of lights,
it was quiet and peaceful.
We crossed the garden of Los Angeles City Public Library,
Entered Flower Street,
Saw a sign, in the building, there were many objects something 70s,
It was 24/7 Restaurant of Standard Hotel.
We decided to chill for a while,
then, found ourselves at the Rooftop Bar,
Saw the night of Downtown LA,
The different faces of downtown LA,
New discovery of the night.
The nightmare turned into a small adventure.
And I discovered something.
At last, he took me to Echo Park.
I went to sleep.
Next morning, the LA life without a car began.
One day, I lost something that absolutely necessary,
for the life in LA.
On that night, I encountered something that not-so-many Angelenos knew about…
I saw the peace among the busiest city on the planet.
I saw the silence in downtown LA.
I had (and still have) the friend who are willing to walk together on the night of downtown LA with me.
I am very fortunate.
10 years ago,
When I first came to LA from Japan,
I didn’t know how to speak English.
I didn’t know anybody.
The day I thought I lost everything,
I did lose something important,
But because I lost something,
I found something else.
And the experience also led me realize,
I have built a precious friendship,
I have never regretted all decisions that I made
The following day, I returned to the mechanic.
He told me I could fix my car.
But it would not help much.
I didn’t have money.
I decided to get rid of it.
I did have a little fear.
The night-walk with my friend gave me the courage.
I will save the money.
I could use it to repair my car
But I decided to continue promoting my film.
After 3 years,
I am still here.
I am now the owner of two companies in Japan and the US,
entering its 3rd year of operatioon.
I’m glad that I lost my car that day.
On October 15, 2009
The day I found something
that will last for the rest of my life.
Whenever I start something new,
I fear that I may lose something.
But I always try to remember the night.
Even though you lose,
you can always gain something else.
Just keep moving forward.