I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude and how to write about it without sounding like every other knucklehead in Los Angeles clutching their mala beads or exploiting this sacred practice to peddle premium kombucha. A perhaps cynical segue into self-reflecting on all the things I’m grateful for that seemed so trivial a few short weeks ago, but sarcasm is one of my greatest coping mechanisms and, if I do say so myself, gifts.
I’m a loner at heart, which always seems nuts to my inner tribe because I can be very outgoing amidst close friends and family. But if I don’t know you, I won’t go out of my way to engage, so all this social distancing is sort of a dream. While sarcasm is one of my gifts, embracing isolation may be my superpower. There have been periods of my life where I’ve spent months alone wandering the globe, and most recently pausing my career for 9 months to focus on writing. If it weren’t for my dog getting me out for walks and that nagging voice in my head that forces me to hit the gym, it’s fair to say I would have inadvertently been in self-quarantine before this crisis ever christened our shores.
Despite my leanings towards introversion, I do appreciate a sense of community. And in our neighborhood, that may be what defines it against other LA county enclaves. I miss our Sunday midday-to-sundown drum circles on the beach. I miss watching our local roller dancers and skateboarders entertain the crowds. I miss the usual boardwalk characters, who make a living by simply being a bit offbeat. I miss watching – and participating in — the weekly electric bike parade from Venice to Santa Monica complete with mobile DJs and boom boxes. I miss people watching and stealing snippets of an overheard conversation or a look between lovers to add color to a character in a script.
I miss live music, almost desperately. Nothing represents community to me more than the communal pleasure of people coming together to let go and revel in something that’s sole purpose is to evoke a sense of joy.
But more than anything, I miss the dark and eerie bar I write in. I miss my bartender who calls me Mrs. McDonald (my married name, something only he and my mother would do). I miss the smell of whiskey and bitters and freshly sliced citrus. I miss the regulars and the tourists who stumble in off the beach by accident and are delighted by her history. I miss my favorite doorman who’s always reading hyper-intellectual novels while he passively cards patrons as they pass through the door. I miss the entire ritual, something I’ll never take for granted again.
Look, LA has admittedly rubbed off on me. I have a symbol tattooed on my wrist that is meant to be the universal marker for gratitude, for fuck sake. But I’m a spiritual person and have always engaged in daily gratitude rituals. In this moment in time, though, they feel more meaningful than ever.
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