Four Things I Can’t Live Without

I was happy to bid goodbye to OKCupid. I haven’t quite bid goodbye to one of the profile questions asking users to name a few things they can’t live without.

It’s been a question I’ve pondered frequently over the past few years as my life has flipped upside down, sideways and likely every possible contortion in-between. My list as it stands today isn’t what I’d have expected.

1. A regular skin, body & beauty regime.

Throughout the difficult times, sticking to face and body care helped me remember that despite feeling as if I’m about to shatter, there is a person lurking beneath the darkness. When I didn’t want to get out of bed, I forced myself.

Life changes. It won’t always look as it does in this moment. By taking the time to put on my makeup, play with my hair & take my dog for an urban ‘hike’ around downtown Los Angeles, I was able to de-stress.

I may not have been going any place special, but taking the time to focus on me offered a feeling of self-worth, a tangible way to be the best ‘me’ I could be. Although my insides were crumbling, I could (and would) rise. After all, I’d learned enough to remember one thing about life: it goes on.

2. Wonderment.

As a society we’ve become isolated from one another, due to cars as well as the latest tech boom that enables you to have your groceries delivered, the laundry sent out and in my case, work that’s typically done at home. Leaving an insular bubble is rarely required.

Walking around the city at all hours provided a new perspective. I wasn’t the homeless man I photographed as he slept at a storefront on Broadway. I didn’t have a tent lining the Second Street tunnel, my only possessions limited to what would fit in a backpack or shopping cart. I didn’t expect to identify with the Old Zoo in Griffith Park, its 1912 cages too small for most house pets. I reveled in discovering the areas closed off to the public. Crawling through doors where large cats one lived. And died.

Everything — no matter how old—suddenly felt new. The people, the structures, the histories, the circumstance(s) gave me life. I developed a child-like fascination with exploring. I love making my way in to old buildings that have sat vacant for years. There’s a high as I wander around Rock-A-H00la — an abandoned water park in the middle of the desert near Barstow, California. I like to imagine those who came, how it functioned as long as it did, I drink information like it’s air. There’s never too much. Most see ruins, I see beauty.

Why? I believe there’s beauty in their scars. My scars.

3. Self-Reliance.

When all is said and done, the only person you can truly count on is yourself. This is not to say I don’t appreciate what my friends and family have done. I love them deeply. I would do anything for the handful I keep close. Regardless, they may be able to help me navigate certain things, but it’s up to me to follow through.

God knows there are many times that I feel like I’m still a kid who magically happens to own a car, a credit card… and some crazy person thought I could be in charge of a dog. While Adulting isn’t exactly high on my list of favourite things or to-dos, it’s a necessity, no matter how often I want to scream for the nearest real adult to step in and fix it ASAP.

4. A hug.

This is a funny one. It will, no doubt, come as a surprise to many who know me, even those who know me quite well. For years I’ve been somewhat uncomfortable with being touched.

Of all the days for this transformation to take place, I got April Fool’s Day. I was at work, the only person in the office. My boss bailed on a meeting leaving it to me to meet with the client. I dreaded it. When the client was a few minutes late, I thought I was off the hook. No such luck. It was at the end of our meeting when I’d walked him down to our lobby that I said my goodbyes and held out my hand. He told me he was going to give me a hug. I wasn’t offended so much as caught completely off guard… And suddenly, it was over too soon.

This took place during the early days of my carefully crafted life being blown to pieces. He may not have known it — I know I didn’t — but in that moment, he offered exactly what I’d been craving for months. He didn’t know me well. I didn’t know him well. Yet touch, reaching out, even if it was simply to say, ‘Goodbye,’ was life affirming in a way. For the first time in a long time, not only did I matter, I was seen.

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