We Angelenos love to explore. A hunger for adventure courses through our blood. And with so much to do and see right here in our city, every weekend is a holiday. Just about every nook and cranny of L.A. is packed with great restaurants, unassuming holes-in-the-wall serving up mouthwatering food, cool bars, bookstores and record shops. Throw into that mix a vibrant and steady churning of festivals, concerts and theatrical performances, and it adds up to one of the best cities to have a date.
And, as we have said since launching this column nearly two years ago, “dating” doesn’t have to be with a marriage or romantic partner. It can be with your pals – or yourself. The whole idea in creating this space was to encourage parents to get out every once in awhile without the kids to reconnect with the city and themselves.
But what happens when we are quarantined at home all day with our kids? When I think of the idea of dating, it conjures for me an opportunity to awaken the senses. Here are some simple sensory ideas for dates – solo or coupled – at home.
Make it appetizing. After standing in a long line to get into Sprouts recently, I walked into the store with reverence. In addition to my essential items, I grabbed a box of heart-shaped crackers, grapes, an almond-encrusted cheese ball and a bottle of local wine. I lingered at the table of orchids. Feeling a little indulgent, I grabbed a fushia-colored one planted in an emerald pot and put it in my basket. At home, I poured a glass of wine and decorated my plate with these non-essentials that felt like luxuries (the heart crackers made me smile).
Explore cuisines. I know we’re all buying canned and dry goods, but do yourself a favor and make a special dinner. Inspired by a friend from Madagascar, I recently made a crab-and-coconut-milk soup and spooned it over jasmine rice in my best bowls. Feed the kids their portion a little early, then put them to bed. Set the table with your best china and linens and a bottle of bubbly. Make a handwritten menu or type one out on the computer in a fancy font. Light candles. Enjoy solo or with your partner.
Fluffy and bubbly. Speaking of bubbly, don’t forget about the other kind. Run a bath and fill it with bath salts (I used orange blossoms) and bubbles. Light candles and hook up the electric diffuser (with drops of lavender essential oil) to intensify the mood. Feel the tension slip from your bunched-up muscles. After your soak, wrap yourself in your fluffiest towel. Couple’s massage or curl up with a good book? Your choice.
Paint and sip. Some of us will have our birthdays and anniversaries during this quarantine, but that doesn’t mean you can’t party. Link up with your friends on Zoom to have your own version of a paint-and-sip party. Paint and Sip Studio in Temecula is selling kits online that show you how to paint at home.
Go on a nature walk – on your street. Keeping your physical distance from others, go on a walk. If you’re feeling isolated, use this time to connect with nature. Stare at the clouds. (They’ve been gorgeous lately!) Pick a flower. Take photos of the most interesting trees. If it’s a couples walk, hold hands, match each other’s pace.
Get away. Escape to your likely underused backyard or patio. Tend to your garden, if you have one. If you don’t, consider planting something. You can still pick up fresh herbs from the grocery. Make a garden cocktail and sip it on your patio while listening to John Coltrane.
Go to the club – in your own house. Put on your favorite music and dance. Thankfully, amazing DJs around the world are hosting free virtual parties on their live Instagram stories. DJ D-Nice has been streaming himself deejaying, drawing tens of thousands of virtual partygoers, including the likes of Queen Latifah, Ellen DeGeneres, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah … and the rest of us.
However you bring a sense of romance and self-care into your home over these next weeks or months, my hope is that you feel pampered and loved, not isolated. As we hope for the best for our world, this is a time for us to focus more on our relationships, including the necessity of courting ourselves.