It all started with an impromptu text at ten a.m. “Meet at the Venice grass strip at noon to come celebrate with me!” It was message from Panos, a joyous member of my spirit tribe who just happened to be turning another year over in the clock of his thirties. Since I had been up early and had accomplished much work already, I decided to go ahead and ditch the rest of my Friday to join in the fun.
We met at a mutual friend’s house, who lives right on the beach, our arms full of baskets and blankets and cameras and music. We shoved a few illicit bottles of red wine into my oversized vintage Coach bag along with the telltale red plastic cups. And we followed our birthday boy down to the seaside, gloomy weather be damned, and spread out on the grass. Blankets splayed and good friends coming and going, we enjoyed the grey weather and the rush of the sea, and were entertained by a group of Venice Beach artists and gallery owners a few hundred feet away from us who were playing a proper game of croquet.
Panos is Greek and he and his lovely lady had chosen a perfect feast for us from Tehran Market in Santa Monica that specializes in authentic Mediterranean and Middle Eastern offerings. We filled our plates with perfect feta, cucumber spears, pickles, green onions, kalamata olives, spanakopita and torn off pieces of Jewish flat bread to dip into tangy traditional vats of hummus. Washed down with our cups of forbidden wine, poured under the blankets that kept us warm, the meal was memorable and delicious for a day that should have had us hiding indoors and under the heat of bed covers.
For dessert, another friend showed up on her bicycle bearing fresh goodies like apricot pie and an apple tart from the Rockenwagner Bakery and double chocolate brownies from our Farmer’s Market friend, the Gluten Free Goddess.
With tummies full, much dancing ensued.
And like a surreal Dali painting, our surroundings merged and began to become one with each other. We stumbled back to our real lives around four that afternoon with boogie in the bones and the mist of the sky’s blending with the briny sea alighting our skin and dampening our clothes.