Hi all! Back again capturing my random thoughts. This week, I wanted to quickly write about how incredibly valuable hearing about other people’s lives is to my own. This weekend, I met three people who I’d consider to have some of the more unique pasts I’ve come across:
John Loughlin (#573)
Here’s John and I hanging at his temporary housing at the time in Kensington. Contrary to popular belief, I am not sitting on his lap, but yes we did dress like twins. John has dealt with drug addiction and homelessness throughout his life, and recently has become somewhat of an internet celebrity thanks to Lolly Galvin (#112) sharing his story on her Instagram page (@realhumanist).
Roz Pichardo (#574)
Roz and I are hanging out in her room, adjacent to John’s room whom she graciously opened her home to in order to save him some money. Roz has been through multiple murders of her loved ones and now advocates for families suffering the same losses.
QUICK NOTE: As I left Roz’s house, she told me she’d watch me walk to my car as “this block is crazy.” Admittedly, this made me a little nervous as I was blissfully ignorant on my way in. When leaving, I had to back my car down the street because the road ahead was blocked off by 2 cop cars. When I got back to my house, I learned that someone had been shot on the block while we were meeting.
Tyrone Jones (#576)
Tyrone and I hanging at his sister’s house where he currently lives. Tyrone was released from prison, just over 3 months ago, after serving 43 years for a murder he’s always maintained he didn’t commit. From 1973 to 2016, he knew little about the outside world and is currently adjusting to a life of freedom. As we chatted, he asked me if I wanted a glass of water or anything to drink. His sister (who took our picture) did the same as I departed asking if I needed anything for the road.
I bring up these three stories because as I write this blog post, I’m sitting in my comfortable living room decorated with Christmas lights for the holiday season. The most stressful thing on my mind is the fact that it’s supposed to rain tomorrow (a minor inconvenience). Earlier tonight I had dinner with my family, all of whom are still alive and healthy. And because of the past that I’ve been afforded, I’ll be spending the week ahead meeting more awesome people.
I think about John, Roz, Tyrone and the many many others I’ve met who’ve dealt with hardships that I’ve been lucky enough to avoid in my life so far. I think about college kids whose families are dealing with cancer to Bill Bancroft (#466) who’s gone through life with cerebral palsy. It’s hard not to feel lucky when any of these paths certainly could have been my own. The thing is, though, I probably wouldn’t have known or appreciated that any of these other paths existed had I not had the opportunity to meet the people actually living them.
For that reason, I’m (as always) excited to move forward with my project. As I continue to live my life, I’m excited that the people around me will continue to shape it in a major way. They’ll continue to give me perspective through their experiences and stories that I’m not able to gain on my own. For now, they’ve helped me realize that I had no control over the fact that I was born into a loving & supportive family, but I can control the fact that I’m incredibly grateful for it!
Thanks for reading!