It was 8:30 AM. I locked my chocolate lab puppy, grabbed the keys and a tray with painted fondant trees, put the cake in a bag and rushed out. I was excited. 15 hours ago Lorde’s new song ‘Perfect Places’ was trending on Twitter. She asked in the song, what was the perfect place? Today I new it is “where the wild things are”. It was painted on a cake I was bringing to the whether Cake House in Old Town Scottsdale in Arizona. In fact, on the way there, I pulled my “follow the green lights” thing. The trick was to never stop at a red light. Ten years ago that brought me to the doors of the National Art Academy in Kyiv, Ukraine. Ten years after I was parking by the cake house.
Jessica, the owner, was making magic with her mom and two other girls at the back of the bakery. She is probably the ‘meant to meet’ kind of person and also, the one who gives the most excited response to anything I paint. That is the second cake we made together, and I find it thrilling to be able to deliver your art to a viewer through food. Not that kind of food, like molecular restaurants, do, that screams: “I am so spoiled and fed up that I need an exquisite something to play with”. No, I learned my homework good. I can still hear Zazu’s voice asking Scar if his mom ever told him to not play with food [in the Lion King movie]. Food is meant to be rich in nutrition.
Now, sweets are where the game begins. The illustration I painted this time on the cake is taken from the Maurice Sendak’s book. It tells a story of a kid who rejected his parents and dinner, and left his room for the place ‘where the wild things are’, becoming the king of ‘wild things’. The book is only about 338 words long but it gets you deep. How many of us are in search of that perfect wild place? I know Lorde is. I always have been.
A year ago my best friend and I went to Primavera Sound concert in Barcelona for that exact reason. My tattooed [during that trip] on the wrist space shuttle brings me “there” every time I seek to it. Today, she made a video call at 7:30 AM on a beach in Barcelona. I am not there this time, but I am happy to have a puppy and a cake to deal with. #FlashBackFriday right?
In the book, the little Max kid chooses the comfort of his room and a ‘still hot dinner waiting for him’ to the wild place. But what if you decided to indulge the wildness? What if you moved to a different country or even a continent. Crowds of people speaking a foreign language, strange glances when you do something so habitual to your birthplace, yet completely odd under new circumstances, weird food – all these may make it seem like a legitimate jungle.
I remember when I was to Starbucks for the first time (during my first visit to AZ at fifteen years). Those bagels with cream cheese ‘to go’ and decaf caramel macchiato amused and took me away. I was seriously thinking of bringing it to Kyiv and emailed Starbucks later on, inquiring on their licensing policy. Naturally, there was a response that they are not interested…
Am I interested in their bagels anymore? Not really. It has become a regularly available item you try to avoid. (See my nutrition reasoning above) On the contrary, Americans are still flattered to be treated to a home cooked meal made completely ‘from scratch’, (meaning of which they had to explain to me over a long period of time), unless it has a ‘weird texture’.
Ukrainians have no sense of time, so all the meetings are arranged ‘around sometime’ which can be in a range of at least an hour. Americans don’t seem to approach to a lunch with friends as an activity that accedes an hour and a half time period. Unless it’s a football game on Sunday and you meet at a bar over a beer or bloody mary at 10 AM. Back in Kyiv I once bought a bottle of vodka, celery and tomato juice and brought it to my friend’s place in the morning. Not gonna lie, I received that questioning look, as in whether I needed some help or a friends advice.
The point is, it’s hard to fit in sometimes. It gets confusing. It’s like hyperbolized feeling of leaving your parents home in search of the one of your own. You get to deal with bureaucracy. You need to get a new driving license, work permits, permanent residency cards in addition to rent contracts, cellular etc. I was used to thinking Ukrainian system for that is a disaster, due to corruption. No visible corruption here, in the US. However, you go apply for a driving license, spend 3 hours on a chair, holding random conversations with strangers like you, and then they say you need a social security card. You drive another 40 min to a place, where you can get a social security, only to sit on the same chair waiting for your number to get called and hear you need a driving license, ID or a permanent residency card to receive social security number. And then, like in the book by Marcel Proust it all repeats itself. I traveled a lot around the US. I wanted to stay in Arizona forever, then I cried to leave it forever. According to quantum physics theory and a movie ‘Interstellar’, there are the endless number of layers to our life, we exist within all of them at the same time. To an extent, it will never matter where you at. Finding your inner peace is the key to a ‘Perfect Place’ that is inside of you.
It’s just being an immigrant makes it more fun! You get to experience multiple childhoods with a need to explore in the ‘trial and fail’ style. It is important to be tolerant, adaptable and motivated to start over and over again. It’s also easy to get lost in a place where nobody seems to care about your existence. But then – see instructions above, regarding the perfect place. In the end of the day, it presents you a life from different angles. Just like that cake that Jessica put on a perfect black stand now. Happy future Birthday baby Max and Happy Birthday to everyone, who immigrated today. For my next move strategy – see a ‘why you should start your bucketlist yesterday‘ post 🙂