Out of My Life But Not My Heart: Retracing Encounters

I wanted to honor some of the people from my life. There are so many important people I’ve encountered in my time on this earth. Here are just a few who I’ve singled out to talk about. The following are ten shout-outs to individuals who I’ve crossed paths with in the past and still love today. Thank you for being a part of my life, hope to see you again soon.

10. Ariana

Location of Interaction: Saint Louis, MO

Ariana was essentially the sole human being that got me through a difficult living situation for one entire calendar year. I was so thankful for her over the course of our time together and continue to remember her fondly. Although our lives have taken us (literally) in different direction, I do indeed believe, as we were once told, that in her I have “a friend for life.”

Perhaps one of the most important things that Ariana helped teach me while we were together was the power of introverts. Until I met Ariana, I didn’t even realize that I was an introvert. Now, after a year of learning from the best, I’m good at balancing social time and alone time. I know how to manage my time with other people and how to take care of my own needs.

Ariana was also my main girl when it came to things like playing tennis, eating pizza in a shopping complex parking lot, and watching mindless television (i.e. “The Walking Dead”, “Paradise Hotel”). Although stupid activities like these were all in good fun and used mainly for passing the time, they were meaningful because I was experiencing them with her. What Ariana did for me was help me through a transitional year in my life. The Midwest isn’t an easy destination for those of us who are not from there, and so, we were able to help one another through this awkward period. Now, neither of us live there anymore, but I look back on the experience very fondly, mostly because she was a part of it.


9. Imogen & Charlie

Location of Interaction: Makuyu, Kenya

Imogen and Charlie were the only white people I encountered for over a month while I was staying at an orphanage in the bush of the Kenyan Highlands two years ago. A few weeks into my volunteer stint there they appeared, arriving from Scotland. They too were volunteering at the orphanage and, since we were the only people who spoke English as a first language (and were the only foreigners), we became quick friends. We shared two weeks together in Kenya. We worked together at first, and then we traveled a few times together, taking day trips to the town of Thika and to Mount Kenya.

We’ve remained in sporadic touch over the years that have passed and have, on many occasions, tried to plan to get together again, but keep finding our conflicting schedules to be a problem—not to mention the Atlantic Ocean that sits between us. Although a lot of time has passed since the last time we interacted, I still remember their adventurous spirit, their generosity, and their general curiosity for the grand world before them. I admired each of them for traveling so extensively at their young ages. I still think of them, remembering them fondly.

I wish there were more people in the world like Imogen and Charlie. I hope our paths cross again soon.

8. Joe

Location of Interaction: Niagara Falls, NY

It seems to me that a lucky few students come out of college with the ability to say that one of their professors truly changed their lives. I’m fortunate enough to be able to say this about a wide variety of staff and professors at Niagara University. In the midst of struggling to start Niagara University’s first Gay/Straight Alliance back in 2009, the amount of support from those employed by NU was overwhelming and fundamental in the eventual creation and success of the group. I have Dr. Vaught, Dr. McCutcheon, Dr. McEntarfer, Dr. Churcher, Dr. Bertland, Dr. Levin, Fr. Maher, and Fran Boltz to thank for their dedication. Each one of them brought an amount of passion and love for the cause and the students of NU to the table, forever altering the course of my life and the person that I was to become. There are no words to express my gratitude for the way these people changed my perspective on how human beings can go out of their way to support one another.

The stand out professor for me—nearly five years after existing NU—is Dr. Joseph Little. Though he wasn’t directly involved in the large project that consumed most of my time at Niagara University, he was a passionate individual who I felt a connection to. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even really begin interacting with Joe until my final semester of college when I took his “Ethnography” course in the spring semester of 2010. The interesting books we had to read, along with an eye-opening writing project that each student had to work on throughout the semester, enabled me to deeply learn about a different culture. Heck, because of what he taught me, I actually learned what a culture is. How many times have I sat people down since I left college to try and explain to them that a culture is something outside of a country, something on a much smaller scale?

I’m not sure if I fully deserved it, but I got an “A” in the class and moved on from there. Over the course of the semester; however, I had had countless conversations and interactions with Joe during his office hours where I was able to talk to him about topics that spanned anywhere from ethnography to gender roles, and the way society misuses the phrase “how are you?” to why moving abruptly to Alaska was an exciting idea. My time with him always left me thinking, left me wanting to know more about how the world worked, why people do the things they do. I knew very well that he was a man in love with adventure, something I greatly admired.

Now, five years since taking this class with him, I’ve gone on a few adventures of my own and checked in periodically to see what sort of exciting things he is involved in. As I would have expected, he’s continued to travel and continued to hold an interest in the betterment of the world. For this, I continue to admire him. He is someone who seems to have discovered who he is early on in life and continued to grow with the idea that who we are as people is fluid, ever changing. He’s someone that I greatly look up to, admire. He’s someone that gives me a little bit of hope that, if I’m lucky enough to get there, perhaps there’s something a little more to life than a white picket fence and the nine to five.

Thanks for the time, Joe.

7-1 to follow…

About mattylife

"And no one is a stranger...for long."
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1 Response to Out of My Life But Not My Heart: Retracing Encounters

  1. Larry says:

    Neat to get to know (by proxy) people who have been important to you.

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