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By Fay Funk
It’s easy to list five things I couldn’t live without: food, water, shelter, heat, air, the basic necessities for staying alive. So this list is more like things that would lower my quality of life if I did not have them. Could I live without them? Sure, and I have before, but life was not as good during those times. They are:
Outside of my old apartment in Brooklyn, there was one sad, stunted little deciduous tree. I simultaneously resented and pitied that that tree. It was almost impossible for the tree to thrive in a city encased in concrete, yet it was the only bit of nature I saw regularly, and I was angry that it fell short. It was a great shock and pleasure to return to Portland and be surrounded by massive evergreens so abundant it often feels as though they are about to take over the city. I never noticed the trees for the first eighteen years of my life because they were just there, always there. When I first came back seeing the pointy tops of the pine trees, a shade of green so dark it’s almost black, poking up into the cloudy grey sky I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Over a year later, it still is.
The rain is what keeps Portland so green, and it is probably what keeps a lot of people from moving here. A lot of people hate rain. My dad, who is originally from California, almost couldn’t handle it when he first moved to Eugene. Every morning he would shout curse words and flip off the sky. I can live without snow and sun, but if there were no rain I don’t know what I would do.
I have been running on a treadmill since I was fourteen, and it has the biggest impact on my mental and physical well being of anything I do. I started running after a family vacation to a resort in Mexico where we just… sat. The whole time. I felt extremely restless and knew I needed to start moving, which was weird since I had never been very active before. But I was right, I needed to move. For a while I felt like running on the treadmill was supposed to be a primer for running outside, which seemed like “real” running. But I’m a control freak, and there are too many variables in play when running outdoors. So on a treadmill it is.
My greatest accomplishment in my life so far has been completing my bachelor’s degree. I learned how to think, really think, my sophomore year of college while taking a science fiction literature class. My degree sometimes gets called useless, which I find infuriating. It is the most enriching and useful thing I have ever done with my time. I do not have the kind of degree that comes with an obvious career path, and while that can be frightening at times it is also perfect, because I can create my own path.
I learned that one of my college roommates talks in her sleep after a catastrophic iTunes failure during our freshman year. It was 5 AM, and I was desperately attempting to restore my lost music. It’s the only all-nighter I ever pulled in college. I received my first bass guitar when I was fourteen. I joined my first band at seventeen, recorded an album, and played a show about once a week. I have met some of my closest and most interesting friends through music. It’s how I survived moving back to a city where I knew almost no one. It’s a lifeline.
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