I didn't want to leave. I was happy -- with the company, with my chicken prosciutto panini and organic white peach tea, and with the tranquil setting that seemed to make time stand still. As I sat on the patio of Aroma Coffee and Tea this past Sunday afternoon, I felt momentarily in love with life. I wasn't thinking about the economy. I wasn't thinking about where I am going to live after my lease ends on May 1st. I wasn't thinking about my broken oven or the guy who is just not that into me and probably never will be. In that moment, life was good. And nothing else mattered.
I've had a tough run of it these past two years. Nothing horribly serious, but I've experienced a series of mild annoyances that, when taken together, seem overwhelming. At times I just want to laugh at the situation, shake my fist in the air, and declare, "Ahh life, you got me again!" Other times, I want to bury my sorrows with an extra large scoop of Soy Creamy chocolate cherry chip ice cream. (Or a couple fat pours of wine.)
My post-collegiate life hasn't turned out exactly how I thought it would when I moved to Los Angeles three and a half years ago, but it has taught me to appreciate the small things -- the glimmers of light that make everything worthwhile. The glimmers of light that remind me that there is more to life than work, my depressed bank account and the guys who don't want to date me. This past Sunday, that glimmer came in the form of a lovely lunch with four amazing girls in a place that made me forget all the worries that lead me to gorge on ice cream.
There is something to be said for an eatery with the ability to transport its patrons to another state of mind. Aroma Coffee and Tea is probably not the most economical nor tastiest choice for lunch, but it is nevertheless a charming place to spend an hour on a weekend morning or afternoon. I love the slightly ramshackled quality of the cafe's house-like building, am smitten by the gnomes that peak out from the planters on the patio, and adore the kitchy touches -- like the chandelier that hangs from an awning outside, and the inside dining room that is decorated to resemble a library. The eclectic, homey ambiance makes me want to move into the space -- to plop down on one of the threadbare couches inside with my current reading material, How to Be Single by Liz Tuccillo, and a frothy cup of Aroma's amazing chai (the best I've tasted in LA).
As such, Aroma Coffee and Tea is so much more than their oversized salads, bursting with fresh greens and vibrant veggies, and decadent focaccia bread paninis stuffed with tender grilled chicken, imported proscuitto, provolone, sundried tomatoes, spinach, and sage. It is more than the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, robust blueberry muffins, and mile-high cakes that tempt patrons to stray from their diets. Aroma Coffee and Tea is a safe haven from the world beyond the front porch. It is a place where friends can meet, laugh and help get each other through the broken hearts, career calamities and dismay over the insipid plotlines on "Grey's Anatomy." It is a place where glimmers happen, and a place where one can find hope for something better.