I spent the evening with a dear friend Marina drinking wine at her place and catching up on months of news. She lives on the West Side of Los Angeles, I on the East, which is a big deal in this sprawling city. Making time to just sit and talk to each other can be challenging. But it is always worth the drive for the rich, warm conversation. Our lives have so many similarities. We were born months apart, we both moved to Los Angeles around the same time, we are both art historians who work independently writing and teaching. These similarities are what began our conversations – we met through a mutual art historian friend– but it’s the differences that tend to lead them in interesting directions. Her family is Russian, she specializes in Western art and she loves tango dancing. My background is Scottish and Persian, I specialize in Eastern art and I love yoga and walking. I am married with a young son, and she has just separated after a long marriage and recently lost her beloved dog.
Tonight, we sat on her couch sharing some of the details of our lives. I talked about parenting, giving away things and dream exhibitions, and she shared some of the challenges of her new life, some of the discoveries she has been making about herself, and the joy of a moment the other day when she helped an elderly man find his way to his doctor’s appointment. I am in awe of the discipline, energy and whole-heartedness she applies to all aspects of her life, from her books about historical figures and stone bowls to her tango dance competitions and her new “bachelor” life. As a gift to her today, I gave her a Japanese lacquered box containing chopsticks, something from the Eastern culture I have adopted that can occupy a small place in her new space and can remind her to keep enjoying every bite of her amazing, beautiful life.