Silver Linings (Lake)book
Almost every day I walk or jog through Silver Lake, my new favorite neighborhood in LA. Something about this charming enclave brings me solace and peace of mind.
The streets are windy and houses stack on top of each other, not in neat rows, but gentle zig zags to fit along the rolling curves of the hill. Bearing little resemblance, each home is like a different person — completely unrelated, but somehow connected together as a community.
Roofs here are rose colored and rose covered. Spanish-style villas with pointy brick tiles stand tall and proud, piercing the sky. Next to them, more discreet abodes peek under palm trees or behind rows of cacti and bamboo. Here, diversity is celebrated. Everyone is welcome.
Since COVID-19 hit California and the rest of the world, I’ve been struggling to find ways to maintain positivity and optimism. Every day is fraught with uncertainty, and everywhere I look seems to bring one bad news after another.
Through all of this, Silver Lake has been my one and only escape. After a quick run around the reservoir, my favorite thing to do is hike up to the very top of the hill, where it’s still and quiet. I peer down at the bright blue water, imagining how nice it would be if everyone could have the luxury of enjoying this sweeping view. For several moments, I feel so safe and insignificant.
Made of steep driveways, twists and turns, and a mix of modern and old fashioned architecture, Silver Lake is not your typical, cookie-cutter land of suburbia. What I love most about it is it’s a beautiful reminder of humanity.
Children ride their bikes, dogs run alongside their owners, locals enjoy the sunset from their front porch. It seems the people who live here are warm and gregarious. They often greet each other with big smiles and nods. There’s a palpable sense of community, a clear message that we’re all in this together.
Last week, I came across a hidden stairway while I was on my jog. Imprinted in navy blue letters, it read: “No one belongs here more than you.”
There are many stairs like this one tucked throughout the neighborhood, each one spreading an inclusive and uplifting message. They might be only stairs, but they bring much-needed relief.
During such a tense and unpredictable climate, I can’t help but feel slightly nervous whenever I venture outside. Reading daily news about Asians and Asian-Americans getting verbally and physically assaulted, I often wonder:
What if I get yelled at?
Harassed or threatened?
Sometimes I feel like I might be more afraid of xenophobia than Coronavirus itself.
However, around Silver Lake, I’ve never been concerned about my safety. There’s a collective geniality here, an understanding that we’re all looking out for each other. I suspect the California sunshine might have something to do with this, but I’m thankful for wherever such precious warmth comes from.
On days that are especially sunny, I indulge myself and pack a picnic for a post-workout treat. I bring along a blanket, my Kindle, and some snacks. Some might call this an act of desperation or loneliness. I call it self-love (or “The Art of Solo Dating”).
The proverbial saying ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ is used to convey the notion that, no matter how bad a situation might seem, there is always some good that will come out of it.
When this pandemic first started to wreak havoc, I remember my dad tried to comfort me by repeating this adage. He told me the world needed a break, so this was its way to reset.
While I’m not one who believes in silver linings, Silver Lake is probably as close as it gets (both literally and figuratively). It’s been one of the few places where I’ve been able to find beauty, peace, and gratitude. On particularly bad days, I know I can always count on it to make me feel better.
Yesterday, when I was feeling especially down, I walked around the neighborhood as usual. Suddenly, I stumbled upon the most colorful and cheerful mural. I was so overcome with emotion (by the sheer timeliness), I wrote an offshoot poem on the spot.
I don’t know how to end this, so I’ll just share it below:
There’s a moment of cold-splashed clarity
When you step outside and inhale
Crisp air, morning dew
Everything that used to be a backdrop
As if to tell you
Look at me,
I’m out here fighting too
Even the timid dandelion
That used to wilt its petals under the sun
Battles for life with renewed vigor
In a time like this
It feels as though
The whole world is holding its breath,
But like the sun that gets up every morning
Each day, we rise
And rise again,