1,300 to 3700

By Catherine Wang

When I’m stuck in traffic heading to or returning from school, I like to wonder what my life would be like if four years ago, I decided to attend Palisades Charter High School – the public school serving my neighborhood – instead of Harvard-Westlake.

Without traffic, Harvard-Westlake’s Upper School is a 22-minute drive from my home, but since traffic never sleeps in Los Angeles, rides to school take anywhere from half an hour to three hours. On the other hand, Pali is a pleasant five-minute walk from my home – with or without traffic.

Looking back at my time at Harvard-Westlake, I realize my four years here are characterized largely by memories of the commutes I have made to and from school: sprinting to catch the bus every day at 7:07 a.m. in ninth grade, watching my knuckles turn white as I clenched the door handle of my carpool driver’s car – clinging dangerously to the curved roads of Mulholland Drive – in 10th grade and dozing off in the passenger seats of my friends’ cars in 11th grade.

Senior year proved to be the most tumultuous in terms of transportation. Before I got my driver’s license in October, every other sentence I spoke was: “can I get a ride?”

Only a month after getting my license, I crashed my dad’s car – forcing social suicide upon myself: driving my family’s green Toyota Sienna minivan – complete with a “Swim Mom” bumper sticker and a customized family car window sticker. (Luckily, I am not fazed by judgmental looks.)

Would I trade the approximately 1,300 hours I’ve logged in commute time to and from Harvard-Westlake for rolling out of bed at 7:30 a.m. and picking up a Robek’s smoothie before my first period class every day? Never. Despite the increase in my carbon footprint and the decrease in my average number of hours of sleep per night that attending Harvard-Westlake has caused, I believe that every trip made, every mile traveled, every step taken, has been worthwhile.

Like Harvard-Westlake, the big destinations in life require time and energy to travel to.