As the summer is approaching, the world is getting warmer, lighter, and more colorful. Santa Monica streets are drowning in purple blossoms. Downtown nights smells of jasmine. Minimalistic lines of sycamores on Virginia Pl. in Beverly Hills, which remind me of Paris in spring, all of a sudden explode with the green profusion of leaves.
Everything is expanding, developing, growing. Everything is becoming bigger. Everything is getting better.
Intoxicated with this unexpected revel and abundance, I don't seem to notice that some nights still make me wrap myself up in a fluffy shawl and turn on the heater. Even on the gloomiest mornings, the anticipation of summer is irrefutably filling the air. This is how one senses the nervousness of the actors waiting behind the curtain a few minutes before the performance. This is the way one feels the presence of the sun behind the thick blanket of the morning clouds.
Two Sundays ago, a monk at my beloved Lake Shrine was talking about how we all need to keep an internal catalog of good memories. The idea resonated with me immediately, as for the past several weeks I'd been thinking of opening up my treasure chest of little joys and sharing it with the world.
In everyday life it is so easy to get stuck in daily issues and problems, missing out on the most precious details. Sometimes we focus so much on what we yet need to accomplish that we clearly forget about what we already have.
So here is a bunch of moments that have filled me with warmth within the last few weeks.
Flowers, flowers, flowers. An incredible bouquet made of beloved peonies, roses and hydrangea appeared at my doorstep together with a smiling husband the day before our second wedding anniversary. A few hours later, we were heading off to Palm Desert to celebrate the big date, so the flowers arrived beforehand, giving me time to enjoy them.
The gorgeous peonies were so magnificent that even after I was long done packing I couldn't make myself get out of the house, holding onto every excuse to spend a few more minutes next to this beauty.
The anniversary itself was destined for celebration at our favorite Cork & Fork, where we go every single time we are in the desert. Normally dinners at this place make me suffer immensely, because I get full much faster than Justin and can't swallow even another tiny bite :) Yet thanks to the local wine flights, my appetite has grown so much that I even conquered the ice-cream that the restaurant has presented to us as an anniversary gift.
On top of that I saw snow in California! Snow! In California! In a desert!! The life will never be the same again :)
I still explode with emotions at every memory of the unforgettable Deadmau5 concert. During our last meeting, Justin's legendary childhood friend Kevin Katz decided to give us his tickets just because our anniversary was coming up, he bought the tickets long time ago, and traveling to the gig from San Francisco would take too long and cost too much.
The energy at the venue was incredible, and the light installations were something out of this dimension. On top of that, mingling with local freshmen and sophomores (the concert took place at USC) invited a huge flashback to our college years. In fact, we got into the student mindset so much that even took the metro back home :)
A Nutella brownie that Oma and I enjoyed at an Italian deli in Pacific Palisades, paired with gorgeously foamy cappuccinos. This piece of chocolate heaven came into our lives after a small gummy bear & tea party at a Pharmaca nearby (I still get amazed by American pharmacies, where you can find literally anything, from a bottle of whisky to free tea. In Ukraine, they only sell drugs).
Long story short, it's awesome to have a grandma that at 77 still looks like a movie star and despite all life trials and challenges never loses her ability to rejoice life and chill with the young crowd :)
This wonder of nature has a name no less prominent than itself, "jacaranda". Within the last few weeks, these trees have taken over the entire Los Angeles, which makes it look like there are purple clouds floating in the streets.
Jacarandas mesmerize me so much that I am willing to stand in the middle of a street and meditate at their beauty, forgetting about the rest of the world. As a matter of fact, that's what I sometimes do.
On May 5 we finally got together with our Post-Soviet girl group to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
This year I got so curious about the origin of the most popular Mexican holiday in the US (which barely enjoys half of its popularity back in Mexico) that I even googled it. It turned out the date is a celebration of the victory of Mexican army over French invaders at the battle of Puebla in 1862 (thanks, Wikipedia).
The date might seem barely relevant to a bunch of ladies from Ukraine, Turkmenistan and Russia, but every excuse to get together with a great group of friends is worth celebrating, especially since afterwards one can join forces with Gauhar and pay a spontaneous visit to the nearby Trader Joe's, surprising the sleepy cashiers with a look a bit too glamorous for grocery shopping. We ended the festive night eating apples in the parking lot behind the market waiting for our Lyft.
All this might give you an impression that all I ever do in Los Angeles is going to restaurants and eating. So I thought, why not share a dozen of pics of me sitting at my laptop at home evaluating ads? :) Ok, just kidding, I'll spare you.
Yet there is one important behind-the-scene achievement I would like to share. I finally gathered enough courage, went to the DMV and passed my written text! Did it at the first attempt and with one mistake only. Do I feel proud of myself? You bet. Now the only thing left to do is just to learn how to drive :)