I went to a friend’s house-warming party this weekend, it was fun seeing friends and checking out the house she purchased here in LA, but… while sitting in her backyard, I realized why I didn’t want this, at least right now.
I have another friend, someone I’ve known for a long long time (25 years) that recently moved out of LA with his family and went from a cramped 2 bedroom apartment to a 2000+ sq ft house in Texas. They are paying what they paid here in LA and have more to show for their hard work.
We chat about life often; what we want, work that inspires us and what we wish would happen during my horrendous drive on the 405. His question since he moved and bought a house... “What are you going to do for retirement? You need to start planning.” Those times when I’m stuck in traffic for a 20-mile commute for more than an hour, I’d start daydreaming and thinking about planning my future.
What DID I want?
I don’t want to own a house, not in L.A. anyway. Minimum cost for a house that doesn't require a ton of remodeling, that is move-in ready is $400k, but in some of the hardest neighborhoods in LA; and with a 30-year loan, that is a bit more than $729k for a postage stamp lot. I don’t want to get stuck in a very expensive chain around my ankle that only allows me to take a few steps away at a time.
I used to dream of the “home” I wanted when I got older. Mentally created how I would design it from the ground up. I was pinning all sorts of inspiration; Color Schemes, fancy tech, gadgets, décor, outdoor space etc.
Most of the pins I was saving were inspirational outdoor spaces and how to build an environment which allowed me to step into a private oasis I created in my home. While I love many of the designs and ideas, it would be the same grass, the same fence (yes in LA, most homes have privacy fences), the same space. Nothing changes unless I do it.
The simple craving of the oasis I had built in my Pinterest world, made me realize I wanted more than just my backyard.
Like most of us in the corporate world, I get two weeks vacation, every year. It will never change. I will not earn more. What my two weeks tend to become:
One week is dedicated to Aunt time with my nephews and family back in Ohio.
One week is always used for spur-of-the-moment events, visitors, weddings, funerals, mini-trips (vegas…). The one week I have left is used for “life” moments.
I love this city and feel the diversity opens your eyes to cultures you know nothing about; I have found that this city and the cost it takes to survive, put the “worry” of not having a job, not having a stable income and the fear of ending up homeless as the tool that drove me. It cast doubts on past moves and changes I made in my life to be happier.
I spent a large part of my life as a photojournalist, which meant I was always in my car, always driving somewhere and always exploring. When I left that industry, I didn’t realize that so much of my spirit of adventure was satisfied by that life.
Maybe it’s because I’m older, maybe it’s because I never truly understood my purpose in life. I knew I wanted to be a photographer. I wanted to see the world and travel. In the 90s, that was a photojournalists’ life. So, I became a photojournalist. I moved where the work took me.
After spending 12 years in the news industry (and then 13 years out), the stories I remember are the ones that displayed acts of kindness, ones that impacted the community. Telling stories about everyday people that were not wrapped up in their own life but looked at how they could change the world around them and inspired me to become a batter person.
I’m not a writer; I will never profess to be. I am however a visual storyteller.
I have written a few times and have been published but it was always first-person accounts, for me that is a relatable story, one that someone reading can feel like they can either relate to or impacts them in a way that changes who they are as a human. (in a good way)
While my stories were not award-winning, nor were they ever written well (checked by a columnist), I did enjoy it.
I will do what I do best; tell visual stories.
If my journey, images or stories inspire, impact or change someone's outlook on life, then I have truly accomplished what I wanted.