I Found The Love Of My Life Thanks To Uber

Photo: Getty Images.
I live in Los Angeles, and don’t know how to drive. It’s not that I simply don’t have a car, or possess an expired license, or am living under the drunken shadow of a DUI. I. Don’t. Know. How. To. Drive.

Five or 10 years ago, this would have been social suicide. But thankfully, Uber saved my non-driving ass from permanent immobility.

It is possible, in the age of the smartphone, to live in Los Angeles without getting behind the wheel. Not only live, but prosper. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I discovered that I could simply Uber everywhere. But how could I assure the denizens of a driving city that I was, in fact, one of them?

Driving is an essential part of the character and culture in Los Angeles. To not drive is to close avenues to the most common form of small talk in L.A.: freeways and traffic and parking (oh, "The Californians"). Initially, I was desperate to keep my vehicular ineptitude hidden. If, at a cocktail party, I confessed to not driving, this fact would be met with a brand of pity normally reserved for the owners of recently deceased pets. “You poor, unfortunate soul,” their expressions seemed to say. How could I possibly have made it to adulthood without first passing Driver's Ed?

The answer goes back to high school. I was a teenager who valued rehearsals for the school musical more than learning to parallel park. My mother, to this day, reminds me that she paid for Driver's Ed not once, but twice; I played hooky both times, in favor of Guys and Dolls and Chicago The Musical, respectively. I couldn’t help it if my busy schedule as a 17-year-old musical theater diva prevented me from completing something as plebeian as a driving course. Besides, I was destined to live always and forever in New York City, a land similarly populated with people who had better things to do than drive a car. Then, many years later when I moved to Los Angeles, I heard my mother’s voice echoing in my head: “There will come a time when you will rue the day you skipped out on Mr. Murray’s Driver's Ed.” She was, as mothers always are, right. I was faced with an uncomfortable reality: My identity was no longer linked to NYC, the city of public transport. I was now lost in Los Angeles, without a license.

How to justify my betrayal of this city’s driving culture? How to convince Los Angeles that Ubering was a valid way to journey across the arteries of its car-loving heart: the 101, the 110, the 405? Not driving made me feel like an Other. I felt alone and out of place — lacking a universally possessed skill in a city defined by that very thing.

Ryan changed everything. Ryan was one of the first new friends I made upon moving to Los Angeles. We were both writers, and had met via Twitter. A few months into our friendship, he revealed something shocking: He didn’t know how to drive, either, and also took Ubers everywhere. He came equipped with a more reasonable excuse: He had cerebral palsy, and was under strict orders from his doctors to never get behind the wheel. “Behind the wheel” was also a place I had never been, but I lacked a doctor’s note to back me up. There was something comforting about talking with someone who also managed to live in L.A. without the ability all other Angelenos possessed. Ryan was proof that I could still find a place in this city, even if I never drove.

It turned out that Ryan and I had much more in common than our inability to wrangle an Audi. We shared the same sense of humor, similar ambitions, common perspectives, and mutual passions. Our relationship gradually move toward something ambiguously romantic, and then, one New Year’s Day, we officially sealed the deal: A drunken evening lead to our first kiss. As we rode toward an uncertain future in the back of an Uber that night, I felt a little less alone in my new city.

Ryan has now been my boyfriend for a year and a half. Together, we’ve spent countless hours in Ubers, and many important moments in our relationship have taken place in the Prii of strangers: drunken makeouts, sobering fights, joyous celebrations, crushing defeats, and personal triumphs. In a way, much of my new identity in this city has been formed in an Uber. Ryan helped me embrace this part of myself (along with many other more important facets of my identity).

Look — I should still probably learn how to drive (and believe me, no one would love this more than my boyfriend, who would get an instant chauffeur). When the zombie apocalypse hits Los Angeles, and thousands of undead studio heads, development execs, and film legends rise from their Santa Monica graves to wreak havoc on the city, my escape will come at the cost of some truly horrific surge pricing. But in the meanwhile, I’m happy to call an Uber or a Lyft to get me across the city. I also feel no shame now in telling people that I’m unable to drive — and I meet more fellow non-drivers every day.


Advertisement