"What was the happiest time in your life?"
"When I came to this country. My country Eritrea had a lot of problems. You cannot work. I was in the army for five years. Everybody leave. I came here with my father."
"I got hit by a car in October and I’ve been struggling with a lot of the physical and emotional aftermath of that. My strength…coming to work and not even be able to lift a box of potatoes on my own. It’s hard having to ask people for help."
"I’m headed to a party and we’re supposed to wear all black. This was the only thing I had."
"Forever a kid."
"I was totally an accident. You know, my parents were on welfare living in a garage in south side Chicago. Things didn’t work out between the two of them, and I just met my dad for the first time last year. I always thought he would be a deadbeat, like with no teeth or something. But when we met, I touched his face and looked at him. He was so normal. Turns out, he’s actually a lot like me."
"This is my mother. I’m a fashion designer and a seamstress and she was the one who bought me my first sewing machine and encouraged my career. I never dreamed I’d be able to do something like this."
"I’m writing a book right now and it’s difficult to sit down and do it every day."
"Why is that?"
"It basically comes down to fear. I don’t usually even tell people I’m writing a book, because I think, ‘Who am I to write a book? Am I a little bit nuts?’ But I’m finding that the more I tell people about it, it becomes easier to get myself to work on it.”
"What is your book about?"
"Well, there are two books. One is a cookbook I’ve been working on for a while and the other is about manifestation."
"What does that mean?"
"It’s about the science behind setting an intention in your life and having those things manifest in your life. Not so much material things, but embodiment."
"I’ve been dealing with a lot of emotional issues lately and my inner child keeps coming out."
"What does that look like for you?"
"Well, I’ve been under a lot of stress with my business and a move and I’ve been reaching my threshold. When that happens I tend to revert to old habits. My deepest fears are that I’m unloveable, so when I find myself reaching my threshold, I tend to isolate myself."
"What are you struggling with most right now?"
"My physical being. Being disabled. It affects every part of my life."
"In what way are you disabled?"
"Well, I was shot in the head when I was 17. Robbed."
"Wow. What were they after?"
"I don’t know. My wallet, I guess?"
"Were they ever convicted?"
"No, not that I know of."
He was about to tell me something amazing, I’m sure. But then he got a little distracted…
"I’ve been working on being my real self. My whole life I’ve been different. I’m just wired differently than most people and I don’t fit it, and I’m finally ok with it!"
"Yesterday my plane missed me and I was going to have to call the agency I work for and cancel a photo shoot I had with eight models.I’m a big guy and I wanted to weep right there in the airport. Luckily, a nice woman helped me get another flight."
"I got dumped about a month ago and I’ve been working of self-autonomy and self-love and being comfortable with just being with myself. " "Where have you come up against your own walls in doing that?" "There are those days when it’s been hard to get out of bed but I think it’s just about recognizing that moving forward is a better choice than moving backward."
"Five months ago I was sleeping under the Burnside bridge over there. Since then I’ve gotten clean and I got a grant for a housing program. I’ve got another month of outpatient to do but then my job is waiting for me when I’m done. I like to come down here and just sit and think about where I used to be and how far I’ve come."
"What was the happiest moment of your life?"
"I don’t think it’s happened to me yet."