A Sunday in Venice

James leaned into the counter and, over the buzzing and hissing of espresso machines and coffee shop chatter, said, “She’s going to get an iced Silken Soul Train, Philz Way.”

I would have never ordered such a sophisticated drink on my own–but this out-of-the-box coffee set the tone for the day. After nine post-grad months apart, James and I reunited for a Sunday of exploration and discovery on the west side. We began at Philz Coffee in sunny Santa Monica and then ventured to Abbot Kinney in Venice.

James and I had first met during our freshman year at a Halloween party, hosted by the creative writing club. We found ourselves in the same film and English classes quarter after quarter–and through Citizen Kane and Mrs. Dalloway, our friendship emerged. Four and a half years have passed, and he is still one of my dearest friends.

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We stopped by Erewhon, the damn prettiest grocery store that I’ve ever stepped foot in, before heading to The Butcher’s Daughter for lunch. “It’s straight out of Pinterest,” James told me. “You’ll love it.”

And I did. White brick, pale wood, and hanging plants…it was straight up mystical. We got a round of juices (tangy, acidic, fresh) to kick off the meal. I ate the Surfer’s Breakfast as we discussed our writing projects and budding careers–life after college.

Following lunch, we weaved our way around the CicLAvia Bike Festival to the Venice Canals, stopping by Pressed Juicery for vanilla froyo on the way. The conversation kept going, as it always does with James: effortless and genuine. I watched subtle ripples texture the marshy water that wrapped around the sidewalks and felt a glowing, warm energy at the realization that we were both happy and excited for the future.

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Calm. I felt calm. I was present, engaged, and content in those moments, as we strolled through the canals. Not panicked, stressed, or sleepless. Now that I am no longer a student, living and breathing deadlines and letter grades, I let myself enjoy the weekend. I allow myself to try out new coffee shops, take walks, and visit old friends.

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Before returning to the car and trekking back to the Valley, I stopped by Urbanic Paper Boutique to pick up a new journal, which I’ve been using to brainstorm ideas for this blog. I can’t wait to go on more adventures. Any recommendations? Tell me where I should go next in the comments below!

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