I Went To A Health & Wellness Event So You Don’t Have To
*For anonymity’s sake, all names and places have been changed.
“Even on a Sunday?!” I screamed at my friend, Zara, as I put my credit card into the parking meter.
My high-waisted culottes felt tight against my unwashed skin while hard kombucha hung from my index finger. We had been instructed to create a potluck dish from scratch, but Zara and I just couldn’t bring ourselves to follow the rules (or to go to Erewhon), so we settled on shame for the evening (Brené Brown would have been furious).
Like paralyzed magnets, we were pulled towards the doors of SlowRoll, a new yoga studio meets coffee shop meets coworking space meets mindfulness studio. It was dusk and the space looked closed. I prayed the doors wouldn’t open, whispering, “I just don’t have the energy for this.” All the air left my body as the doors swung open, barely putting up a fight.
The food was raw, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, agave-free, sugar-free, non-GMO, organic, non-Trader Joe’s, and VERY tough on the digestive tract.
Inside, it was hard to see past all of the middle parts, summer dresses, blue light glasses, and biohacking accessories. The theme was health and wellness and the party was called Summer Vortex Fiesta. The food was raw, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, agave-free, sugar-free, non-GMO, organic, non-Trader Joe’s, and VERY tough on the digestive tract.
As we walked inside, not one face looked up from their uncooked food and intricate dialogues about what it takes to create a healthy microbiome. Grateful to be invisible, Zara and I found a gorgeously empty spot at the checkout counter turned “sign in station.” In front of us were gold name tags with huge black Sharpies. Write your name and what you do! a sign demanded. I declared I would not abide by the rules and wrote Annie <3, quite pleased with myself for showing (not telling) that I was creatively-minded and free-spirited.
There was healthy rage in her eyes caused by endless hunger resulting from uncooked foods.
Satisfied with my name tag promptly placed on my mustard sweater (which was brave because I never wear mustard), we turned around to the sound of more demands:
“NO. LADIES. I NEED YOU TO WRITE YOUR NAME AND WHAT YOU DO UNDER. SO, ‘ANNIE’ AND THEN ‘WRITER’ SO PEOPLE CAN SEE WHAT YOU DO. THAT WAY, IF THEY NEED A WRITER, THEY’LL KNOW TO TALK TO YOU.”
LaraDivina, the event’s host, had found us. In true LA fashion, her face looked like something that had been ordered on a plastic surgery menu (also gluten and dairy-free). There was healthy rage in her eyes caused by endless hunger resulting from uncooked foods.
“HERE. TRY THE RAW CHOCOLATE MOLE,” she yelled as she dumped a plastic bowl and fork in my hand. Before I could remark on the irony of plastic being present at a party focused on holistic health, LaraDivina was gone (and the chocolate mole was back on the table). My name tag now read Annie, Writer in poor cursive.
Zara and I shuffled our way through a narrow corner to get closer to the other cold food, nodding as we read the ingredients. We found a group of three, which included one woman who was eating out of her own Tupperware. Underneath her name read the name of a hybrid water company that focused on bringing good vibrations to one’s water through love and “healing vibes.” Her boyfriend, whom she made out with in between Tupperware bites, had a name tag that read, “I write children’s TV.” We never got a chance to speak because he was otherwise engaged.
A lone vegan, and the last of the three, latched onto Zara and me quickly – eager to connect with anyone willing to look into his unblinkingly stark blue eyes. “So, have you guys ever taken a vegan bus tour?” I almost spit out my quinoa tabbouleh. I begged for more information.
“Well, I create vegan bus tours all over Los Angeles. We take you to all of the best vegan restaurants and zoos and other places where you can learn about a plant-based lifestyle. Even non-vegans love it!”
It was official: I had already upset two people and it had only been 25 minutes.
Ready to break his heart, Zara and I revealed that neither one of us were vegan. After telling us that he thought that the party itself was just for vegans, we were banished from the group of three and thrown into a dynamic trialogue with SlowRoll’s founder, Devon, who also happened to go to high school with us. Different from high school, Devon now had a man bun, a beard-goatee-like hair contraption hanging down his chin, prayer beads around his neck, and a beige getup that wasn’t far from a baggy unitard.
“Annie. Uniter! That’s so awesome.”
I looked at him, befuddled, only to realize that the Writer portion of my name tag was written so poorly, it looked like “Uniter.”
“I’m a writer who doesn’t know how to write, I guess!”
We spent the rest of our time talking about his silence retreat in Nepal, how Santa Monica is “so different now,” and how real estate is his new financial hobby.
Ignoring my disparaging remarks, Devon proceeded to prompt Zara and me with the fact that society spends more time sitting behind a desk than they do anything else. “That’s why we’ve created a coworking space for the mindfully like-minded,” he regaled as opened his arm and puffed up his chest to show us the coffee kingdom he (his dad) had paid someone to build. He was disappointed when I told him I didn’t care much for coworking spaces. It was official: I had already upset two people and it had only been 25 minutes.
We spent the rest of our time talking about his silence retreat in Nepal, how Santa Monica is “so different now,” and how real estate is his new financial hobby. We were just about to discuss the demise of branded content when a woman with a rare-breed dog, who may or may not have been breastfeeding, stepped into our friendship circle.
Having given up on conversation (after talking to an older gentleman who used to be a Hollywood producer but now corrects body alignment in Santa Barbara), I tortured Zara in a corner about how online dating has ruined love. I was in the middle of a rant about projecting a curated self when all of a sudden, LaraDivina was atop the table we were hiding behind.
Her face, almost close enough to kiss, screamed, “DID YOU GUYS MEET ANYONE? DID YOU GET JOBS? DID YOU HAVE A GOOD TIME?!”
As Zara and I walked back to our cars, meters still blinking green, I realized I had put a coconut–matcha “fat ball” in my purse. “Not bad,” I said, as I got into my car. I looked down to take my name tag off, but it was nowhere to be found.
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