I fell in love with this painting during my sophomore year of college while studying the appreciation of modern art. That month, I immediately booked a ticket to spend my spring break admiring the piece. I watched for hours and only fell deeper.
When first exhibited, Le Lit was extremely controversial as it depicts two girls in bed, laying intimately, about to fall asleep with one another. For me, it perfectly captures fleeting moments with loved ones. The feeling right before someone has to go and the uncertainty of when you’ll be wrapped in eachother's presence again. Intimacy. Nostalgia. Slow-life.
I had the piece tattooed on me by @briansold during a trip to Brooklyn when I was 19. At the time, my sister lived in Prague, my brother was in Japan, and I was a month away from moving to Europe for college. Needless to say, I found myself lost in many moments needing to let go and say goodbye. I didn’t know how to describe what I felt until I saw this painting.
I spent some time with the painting again this week. Years later, I only find myself falling more in love with this piece of art as it continues to adopt new meanings the more I grow, more in love with myself, and with long distance relationships.
Florence smells of fresh baked bread, cigarettes, expensive cologne, and occasionally dog poop. The colors give me the most infectious smile as do the brick ceiling and tile floors in our apartment. The pasta melts in my mouth and the wine and apértif's have me skipping down the street on a nightly basis. I pass Santa Croce every morning on my way to class and see the top of the duomo every time I look up, but it's hard not to look around and wish you were here too.
I am tired of my heart weighing me down when I feel as though I should have nothing to complain about. Your birthday is in 5 days and I have been formulating a text to send you since I've arrived. Something along the lines of "happy birthday! I hope you feel loved today" feels appropriate. I mean, what am I supposed to say? "Im tired of this come hold me?"
On the other hand, I have been going out, flirting, and dancing with whomever I want to dance with and kissing whomever I want to kiss. Asshole film majors, fake Italian bar tenders with tongue piercings, gay men with the last name of Ferrari, roommates, and dear friends. When I walk two streets down from my apartment and take a right, I find myself at a market with some of the most flavorful fruit and porchetta I've ever had the pleasure of putting in my mouth. I make breakfast with friends, eat entire pizza's on the regular (really! I don't even save a bite), buy myself the most beautiful lingerie, and eat gelato almost everyday. These are my last few weeks of 19 and I will spend them like so.
Where you can find me when I'm not studying:
La Menagere: La Menagere is a flower and decor shop, bar, restaurant, and cafe. The place of my dreams! I have never felt so at home in a public place. Head to the back and walk down the stairs to find live music, dancing, and a secret bar. The Beatles cover band on Tuesday is my absolute favorite night to be there.
Trattoria ZaZa: Out of any restaurant in the world, Trattoria Zaza is my number #1 recommendation. Three words- Gorgonzola. Truffle. Gnocchi.
Pino's Sandwich's: More so where you can find me in between classes. I think I had a panino from Pino's everyday while I was abroad and I wouldn't have had it any other way.
La Carraia: This ice cream shop in Santa Croce is where I learned the bulk of my Italian! If you'd like some extra knowledge on Italian ice cream flavors I am your girl (but please keep the conversation in the dairy aisle)
Cara is a beautifully designed Hollywood hotel filled with influencers and designers alike. The crowd combined with (arguably) the most beautiful poolside dining in Los Angeles, makes it the ideal spot to sip on cocktails and people watch with friends. Unfortunately, the food is a tad underwhelming compared to the ambiance but there is no where else I'd rather spend a panic inducing sunny day in Los Angeles than poolside at the Cara hotel (but mostly because it makes me feel like I'm not stuck in LA at all).
On our way home from a summer abroad, my boyfriend Kiva and I decided to extend our layover in Stockholm and explore the city for a few days. In between shopping at our favorite Swedish brands like Acne Studios and Eytys, and exploring the ins and outs of our favorite new city, we made it a priority to step into the local and cozy favorites recommended to us:
Here's where we ate and why we think you should too:
Knut Bar: A cozy, laid back restaurant located in the center of Stockholm & a perfect place to discover Swedish food in an authentic setting. The menu varied from pizzas and pasta's to Swedish delicacies like reindeer heart, moose steak, and elk sausage.The delicious food with the inviting staff and atmosphere makes this place an absolute must when visiting Stockholm.
Eatnam: We ate at Eatnam after an early flight from Prague and needed some soup to warm us up after the shock of discovering Stockholms weather in August. This was the perfect place for something quick, warm, and light.
Cafe Saturnus: Cafe Saturnus was worth the walk from the city center (despite how cold and rainy it may have been)! Aside from the infamous gigantic cinnamon and cardamom buns they are known to serve some of the best breakfast in Stockholm & they surely did not disappoint.
Gelato Caput Mundi: The most charming gelato shop located in the center of Axel Landquist park. This staff of this family owned stand make their gelato early every morning and always end the day with a complete sell out. Let me leave you with this, if the people of Stockholm are waiting in line to eat gelato in a park despite the cold, you know its worth it.
Yes, I wear their hat while I walk around San Diego questioning if a bachelor's degree is a good enough reason to live so far away from their bagels.
I lived on the corner of their 3rd and Crescent Heights location and it’s safe to say that their avocado toast is what got me up in the morning.
The first time I went to Bottega Louie was when I was 14 and flew to LA from San Francisco to see One Direction (I wonder why too). Their smoked salmon eggs Benedict tied with Louis Tomlinson for my first love.
Charcuterie boards in Sandwich form- that's all I have to say.
Get the Geary sandwich & don’t think twice about the duck liver pate.
Ysabel is my go-to celebration and date night spot & another perfect LA joint for sharing plates. Don’t pass up on their spicy tuna tartare, wagyu yakitori, and hamachi sashimi. If you’re lucky, you might even run into Harry Styles.
Laurel hardware is ⅓ of the Santa Monica Blvd holy trinity (with Delilah and Employees Only) and gets its name (and store front) from the hardware store that previously occupied the space. You can honestly skip out on their main entrees and focus on share plates. Their patio is arguably one of the best in Los Angeles, as are their cocktails, which makes it a perfect 1st stop for a Santa Monica Blvd bar crawl.
THE place to pretend you are a wealthy Santa Monica wine mom (mine and every 21 year olds dream living in LA). If you order the bacon wrapped dates to pair with your Zin, I’ll love you forever.
Not many places in LA serve crispy potato tacos while their owner is passing around a tray of tequila shots. I met Taco here while eating a taco, and then I was hooked (mostly because I have a crush on his girlfriend). If you love a side of skater boys and influencers with your food, this is the spot for you.
While my typical Bacari location is W 3rd, their Silverlake spot that opened weeks before I moved stole my heart. This is the ideal place for cocktails and sharing plates, and my go-to restaurant to take friends when they’re visiting.
Their carbonara was my go-to comfort meal after a long day at work.
Johnny’s pastrami is an old school pastrami shop on W Adams with a speakeasy in the back. Pop in for a few drinks and once you’re feeling good, hop in line for the best fried chicken sandwich and pastrami you’ve ever had. & don’t be embarrassed to Shazam every song the DJ plays, because most people in there are doing the same thing.
Classes were difficult this quarter. Probably the most difficult of my life. I found myself writing an average of 20 pages per week split between an internship, work, and the end of my two and a half year relationship.
About a month after my relationship ended, I was consumed by finals- writing paper after paper, without even a second to process what had been going on. I was working on my graphic design final early one morning (probably around 2:30 am) and was at a complete standstill. I had been completing papers about the theories of Henri Marcuses’s democratic Unfreedom and International Policy within a few hours, but once it came time to work on a project that required my personal reflection, I was completely stuck.
For the entirety of the semester, my art projects had been focused around the feeling of nostalgia from moments not personally experienced. Specifically, the feeling someone gets when looking at a painting of two people lost in each other's eyes or an old photograph of a concert from the 70’s. You may not have physically been there, but you can feel what the subjects in the photo were feeling, and it produces a sense of nostalgia for that moment in you too.
I have filled a notebook every year since my freshman year of high school. So, I thought I’d flip through a few to find some inspiration for my final project. Some pages are filled with memories of the beach. Some with school or heart ache, & others just have a big plane ticket slapped on with the slide of a glue stick and “woohoo!” written sloppily in the corner of the page. But when I opened my journal from my senior year of high school, I found a letter I wrote to 22 year old me while sitting in a hostel in Berlin about a week after graduation. Just a snippet, but it said:
“To college senior me,
I hope you find some peace of mind because you really haven’t been able to. I hope you majored in Global Studies and lived in Italy for some period of time in school. I hope you feel like yourself again. I hope you experienced love- outside of traveling, Roma, family, friends, and music. I mean real, romantic love. I hope you figured things out with Chadd & decided to speak to him again because even though you hate to admit it, he’s so important to you. You’re gonna love that boy no matter what he does. Are mommy and papa still together? The thought of how realistic you’ll be at 22 scares me. You’ve really been questioning your purpose here and I hope on some level, you’re beginning to understand.
All my love,
18 year old Sof.”
6 months ago, I’d give anything to be where I am right now. Surrounded by friends and living by the beach. Making my own decisions. Living full time in one city, rather than splitting my time between two. Having a safe space to come home to. But 4 years ago? I was just hoping I’d still be alive. I closed my book and thought to myself. My family may not talk much anymore but we’re definitely at peace. I'm visiting all of my high school friends in LA next week and staying at Chadds, who has become one of my dearest friends through all of the madness we put each other through. And I experienced the realest love beyond anything 18 year old me could fathom. I really did get everything I ever wanted- all of it.
I suppose that's why I just don’t see a reason in being sad. Nothing devastating happened to where we won't be in each other's lives. We didn’t break each other's hearts or hurt each other to no return. I think I’m not sad because I don’t feel like I lost. What I experienced is so beyond real love, I can't help but focus on how lucky I was to have had it in the first place. I talk to people in their late 20’s or 30’s or 60’s who still haven’t experienced that. I'm sitting here 4 years later, with a letter from my 18 year old self in my hand, not being able to imagine what life would look like without having ever experienced all of the love I had within the last 4 years.
I created a series of collages from each journal from my high school years and collected photographs from my travels emphasizing slow life, intimacy, and nostalgia. I combined them all together with an exhibition poster titled “Everything I Ever Wanted”.
(something to listen to while you read)
I lost my childhood home back in June, but moving away for school already felt like I was losing a large part of it. That, coupled with my crumbling family structure made it feel even more real. It’s funny how, even with all of these non physical things, it took an actual zillow listing for me to comprehend what was actually happening.
Once I brought myself to go up north and say goodbye, I let myself feel every emotion 100%. I sat at my typical morning tea spot at home ( the place I would begin all of my mornings) and sobbed. But once I got in the car and headed back down south, I found comfort in calling that unfamiliar place home.
Don’t get me wrong- this shit still sucks. I took a trip back to Marin this past weekend for the first time since everyone went their separate ways and couldn’t even get myself to stay the entire weekend. It turns out the calm after the storm isn’t too calm & sometimes it’s harder to navigate a new normal than to drag myself through a storm.
But before the dust had settled, my feelings looked a little more like this:
“I wish I could always go back to this place. I wish this house felt like a safe place for me. Somewhere I could play mermaids in the pool as a twenty one year old and write in my tea spot above the hot tub and my mom would show me the new vegetables sprouting in her garden everytime I came to visit. I could always come home and cook mushroom risotto in our bright orange Le Creusets.
This place where I thought I would have my small backyard wedding and teach my kids to swim in the magical blue tiled pool, just like I did. & while doing so, I’d turn to see my dad on one of our lounge chairs smoking a cigar. My mom would bring out stuffed peppers and homemade pasta for dinner. At this moment, my dad would kiss her on the forehead and thank her. And we would all eat dinner outside together as we complained about getting mosquito bites under the oak trees, secretly feeling grateful that this place is still ours. But in reality, there are a lot of holes covered by posters and broken doors in that house, and a family that is really only a family by blood.
& through these memories, I am coming to realize that I cannot resent the people in my life for not giving me these moments because it is only my responsibility to create them for myself. Though, I can hope that the next people who move in create the memories that belong in that magical space.
& I am slowly coming to realize that this is the reality of this house and these emotions that I am feeling, but right now, I can't even bring myself to respond to my mom's message asking to set up a facetime to go through my things.”
& even though so many people have gone through it, or are going through it with me, divorce is still something we all need to navigate on our own. But it is through these moments of feeling so lost- of lacking connections with those who are my typical go-to’s, not knowing where I’ll stay when I visit my hometown, navigating a new split family, and making my temporary home at school feel as permanent as possible, that I have created the most beautiful connections with those who had gone through it year’s before me. It is through their advice, love, experiences, and new found perspectives that I have been able to understand that I am at the beginning of a long path, but every adjustment is one step closer to the end.
(something to listen to while you read)
I am starting to feel hopeful again. I am also beginning to practice love again. I fill my head with comfy, soothing thoughts. Every morning I wake up and as I lay with my cat Roma, I think about the things in my life I am grateful for. I know it’s cheesy, but I now consider even the most mundane of days to be good. I had recently begun to find myself falling into a spiral of unhealthy tendencies. Spending too much time on my phone. Comparing and wishing I was something else, somewhere else, and someone else. There were so many big things going on I didn’t know what to focus on. School, moving, the election, my parents divorce. My mind was starting to spread too thin and the mentality spread to my writing. I didn’t know what to focus on. So, I pushed it away and focused on nothing at all. But as I work on centering my attention to appreciate the minuscule, sometimes insignificant things that go on throughout my day, I will shift my focus to do so in my writing as well.
Here are some recent small joys I’ve documented in my journal:
“Today, I made a cup of rose tea and enjoyed it with a shortbread cookie. It made work a little more enjoyable.”
“There is a small company Kiv & I have been obsessed with in Long Beach (more so me) called 3WomenCo. All of their pieces are custom and made from vintage flour and rice bags. They’re also expensive. Very expensive. But because I really wanted one of their pieces, I got an app to save a percentage of my paycheck in a “3Women Fund” folder. Kiva’s 21st birthday happened to be right around the time I had finally saved enough money & I knew seeing him on one of their pieces would make me just as happy as if it were me. So, I spent my fund on a shirt for him instead. But!!! (and here’s the catch) I ended up winning a raffle for a custom top the day after I placed the order for his! & the raffle was for voting! This is some very good Karma if you ask me.”
“Leah and I were eating Dim Sum on Beverly Blvd together and noticed a houseless person sitting at a man's table behind us immediately after he stood up to use the restroom. We mentioned it to him after she scurried away upon his return. Thinking, of course, that he’d want a new plate and utensils. Instead, he thanked Leah and I for letting him know and then told us “I wish she didn’t run away, I would have bought her some dinner.” He put his headphones back on (the cool, bulky, 70’s type) and returned to his meal. We need more people like him in this world.”
“Someone literally ran across the street this morning to tell me my hair is beautiful. I admire people who go out of their way to make a stranger's day. Today is going to be a good one.”
“I got sick (like really sick) during Kiva and my anniversary dinner in Mexico. He grabbed the check halfway through and met me outside to hold my hair back and actually said my dry heaves were one of the cutest things he’s ever seen (like what). It was our last night in Mexico and I was supposed to pack/ clean up the airbnb once we got home. There were dirty dishes in the sink from the entire week, our clothes lying all around the apartment, and we had to be on our way to the airport by 6:30 the next morning. I, of course, passed out right when we walked through the door with my shoes, make up, and dress still on. But when I woke up the next morning, my bag was fully packed, the dishes were done, and the airbnb was clean.”
Over the last few years, I've trained myself to primarily shop sustainable, clean, & ethically sourced products. I believe in ethical consumerism and the changes that can be made in the fashion industry if we stay mindful. I urge you all to educate yourselves on exactly how much it takes to produce a piece of clothing when all employees are making a livable wage and are working in fair conditions.
Fast fashion brands don't thrive because people who can't afford to shop with small or sustainable brands need to shop with them. What makes these companies thrive are girls who need a quick and disposable outfit for their newest post. I understand that not everyone can afford a $200 piece of clothing, but I would rather own one sustainable or pre-loved piece that will last me years than 5 from a company that doesn't care about their impact on the environment not the livelihood of their employees.
The clothing we put on our bodies should be celebrated (!!!) They should represent ourselves and our morals. Everything we wear is a piece of art, and we should know exactly where they are sources and feel good about the companies we buy from. + I don't know about you guys, but I would never wanna run into someone wearing the same outfit as me.