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As a part of our maudern people series, we asked Los Angeles-based art and fashion director Benjamin Holtrop for insights on modern intimacy. He has built his career between LA and Portland with clients across tech and fashion, working for Nike, Uber, Aesop, and Uniqlo. His work has been featured in Kinfolk and Cereal, among others. 

What is your relationship status?

In a Relationship

With social distancing & quarantine, how has human contact changed for you?
For me, my human contact has only been with a few people - my roommate, my boyfriend, and his roommate. As a person who is always around groups of people both in my work and social life, this has been mentally challenging. I have to remind myself that this is a time for solitude (finding comfort in being alone) and that solitude is different than loneliness (the feeling of being incomplete due to being alone). I also have been Facetiming with my family a lot more.

How do you make time for intimacy?
Lately, I think that most of the intimacy whether it be with my roommate (who also happens to be my best friend and assistant) and my boyfriend has been centered around mealtimes. We have been creating meals all together a couple times a week and the act of making time to focus on a particular goal has been comforting. I love cooking and taking care of the people I care about, perhaps it's the Cancer in me. My boyfriend and I have been trying to keep the schedule we had before, which was usually seeing each other a handful of times during the workweek and then spending the weekends fully together. I think for me, trying to maintain a sense of normalcy helps battle the feelings of loneliness. I have also found that spending time on myself, whether that be skincare, meditation, home workouts, have been very helpful for my mental health.

I have to remind myself that this is a time for solitude (finding comfort in being alone) and that solitude is different than loneliness (the feeling of being incomplete due to being alone).

How has your perspective on your home/space changed?
As a freelancer, I was usually working from home or onset and the home has been both a work/live space. But now that I am not on set and I'm in my home all the time now, it has become a place of refuge in this time of uncertainty. I've been trying to do these little rituals that help create a sense of calmlighting a candle/ palo santo to start off and finish the day, making a cup of tea in the morning, making & turning down my bed, having some cut flowers or nature inside. It's been the little things that have made my space a home. My roommate and I also love taking walks around our neighborhood looking at all the other homes and appreciating them.

How do you keep busy? Do you separate the weekend and weekdays?
Keeping busy has been finding other ways of creative outlets that I can do at home such as restyling my apartment, painting, trying recipes that require some time, and reading books. In order to create somewhat of a separation of weekends & weekdays, we have been doing our larger special meals on the weekends & consciously not focusing on work or the world. 

What is a new activity you are planning to try?

I have been able to do a few things off my list. Made pasta from scratch using my great grandma's pasta machine, baked my first loaf of bread, and learned a few new board games. I think the next thing is tye-dye. I should also maybe do a closet purge.

Do you have a book or movie on your list while home?

I am currently reading two books: On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong & By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coehlo. I also just watched the film The 5th Element for the first time and it was incredible.