Yesterday was such a fantastic day! After a few weeks filled with life’s big and small headaches, I at last had a day to myself. I found myself finally done with painful dentist visits (for now), done with tests and lab work ups (for now), with Carmageddon finally over, and all other annoyances that plagued the last month behind me. All that was left to do was to go out on my very first Artist’s Date. The notion of the Artist’s Date comes from the book, The Artist’s Way, which I read while healing from my second gum surgery last week. It refers to a weekly “play date” of sorts, where you go to a place that holds meaning for you for some solitude, inspiration, rejuvenation or as a way to nurture the inner self.
For my first Artist’s Date, I chose two of my favorite spots in LA, located in my favorite LA neighborhood, the Miracle Mile. I stopped by Susina Bakery for a spot of lunch [sounding British] and some reading, and then headed to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) for a couple of hours of heaven.
I love Susina (http://susinabakery.com/). It’s not an exaggeration to say that it is my favorite cafe in LA. For the first seven years of my life in Los Angeles, I lived in Miracle Mile. Susina was my neighborhood hangout. I’d walk there for some jasmine tea and Italian cookies, armed with my trusty journal and the current book I was reading, and an enchanting afternoon would ensue. Being so close to the CBS studios, the Screen Actors Guild, as well as the Screen Writers Guild, Susina is always teeming with actors, writers and the artistic types. I loved sitting at my table, hearing the tidbits of conversations waft on by me. I’ve heard a couple of comedians test their jokes on each other, writers and directors pitch project ideas to potential producers and actors hanging out as they talk about what they’re working on or what auditions they’re going on. Susina to me means LA with all of its creativity.
When I got to LACMA (http://www.lacma.org/), I consciously decided to seek out the sections of the museum that I normally don’t visit. The contemporary art collection is located in the recently finished section of the museum. I began my “play date” there. Works by Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and other artists I hadn’t heard of before were everywhere, challenging my senses of reality and aesthetics. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d enjoy them. I was very wrong. I admit it-just this once.
Having been proven wrong, I pushed on to another exhibit that would challenge my senses: the Tim Burton Exhibition. I’m not particularly a fan of Tim Burton’s. I’ve seen his movies, of course, but they usually don’t do much for me. Beetlejuice is just wacky in my opinion. So, I walked in dubiously, secretly challenging the work of Mr. Burton to even try to wow me. And WOW me, it did! The exhibit is extensive, very crowded and a little weird (this is Tim Burton we’re talking about). But, it is simply amazing. Every chicken scratch, every hand written note, every short film he made as a teenager-every piece of the exhibit shows this man’s weirdly creative soul. All I can really say is WOW!! This exhibit is a must see for fans and non-fans alike.
Having only twenty more minutes on my parking meter, and a whole lot more art to see, I quickly ducked into another temporary exhibit. This one was entitled Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Court. This was yet another exhibit I felt I had zero interest in. And, for the third time in one day, I was wrong. The exhibit was filled with elaborate Persian rugs, beautiful Persian wood carvings and wonderfully intricate Persian calligraphy. There were works from Egypt, Turkey and elsewhere of course, but I was drawn to the pieces that came from my homeland. Soon, a sense of awe, wonderment and incredible pride washed over me. I can’t explain exactly how I felt, but it was a little like going home, if only for a few minutes.
Miracle Mile, Susina and LACMA brought back an intense mix of emotions: apprehension of a person new to the city, a sense independence for the very first time, excitement about finally living in the City of Angels and the utter bewilderment of those first months of my life in this metropolis. They all came rushing back. It’s hard for me to accept that this was more than eleven years ago. I remember feeling so overwhelmed by all of it that I didn’t even think I’d survive the first week, never mind a decade!
So much has happened in the course eleven years. So many faces have come and gone. So many lessons have been learned. So much has been gained and lost. And so much of the dreamer and naive person I used to be has faded away. But, I’ve never lost my love for what this city holds for me. And I’ve never stopped feeling star struck just by living here. I may have become jaded in a lot of ways, but not about Los Angeles.
So, as I sat at my little table in the window in my favorite cafe, I looked back and thought of the last eleven years. I thought of my early years here, the ups and downs, the blows, the losses, the magic, the happiness and the sense of awe this place conjures up inside of me. And I found myself smiling. I found myself feeling my roots in this city. And, as a person who’s lived in exile since the age of 13, being rooted here is my ultimate bliss.
P.S. How the heck am I going to top this Artist’s Date next week? And the week after that? And the one after that? Oy…