“So there is actually a specific encounter with two strangers that I tell over and over again during formal dinners or drunken sloppy Happy Hours. It’s not my trip to Turks & Caicos or Paris or even Vietnam. It is actually an encounter in Baltimore. I tell it because it’s funny, dynamic, hopeful, involves a love story and someone dies. Okay, maybe not the last two. But all things considered, it could make a melodramatic scene in a movie. Haha. It was an underwhelming yet subconscious-changing event.
In the encounter, many things could have gone wrong. It was the trust between the parts — the individuals in this story — which made it utterly beautiful. This story began with a road trip I took last October when I turned 23. I wanted to travel but I didn’t have the funds, I wasn’t sure how long I could take off of work, and I was super superstitious about not making traveling plans during Mercury Retrograde. I decided to take my best friend’s advice – “If you can’t travel afar, then start in the states!” Retrograde was over and I convinced him (it wasn’t very hard) to do a Foliage Road Trip from New Jersey to Virginia. On the second day, we made a stop in Baltimore to visit a friend and explore the city.
While shooting on this fantastic street in Baltimore, Maryland, a lovely man walked out from one of the colorful soapbox homes lining the small block. You can tell that this man had more color and personality than this street alone. I instantly began to tell him about our work to make him comfortable. Truth is, we were loitering around this neighborhood and the residences may easily mistake our awe and creativity for more ill-intentioned reasons. To our surprise, we found out way more about him than a conventional conversation would lead to. In fact, he invited us in to see what the inner workings of these picturesque homes would look like. This could have easily been the start of a sick thriller, maybe a new Hannibal. Plenty of things went through my mind upon his offer. My imagination was, perhaps, too active. I looked at my best friend for some sort of confirmation. Were we going to play safe or were we going to just say, “fuck it!” Even to our surprise, well not really, we picked the latter. If we were going to die, why not die in a stranger’s home with blue doors?
Anyway, the only thing that caught us completely off guard was an S&M swing in his basement. Other than that, the home fits the colorful homeowner seamlessly. He offered us wine, which we sipped generously. We talked politics, education, his efforts against homelessness, and some of his occupations over the years – flight attendant, researcher at NYU, non-profit, and now a black jack dealer. This man had stories for days and he had the years and age to back it up. He didn’t know too many people since he moved to Baltimore. He only moved into this state just two months prior. We were now one wine bottle deep into a spontaneous house warming party with a room full of strangers. “You have someone at the door,” my best friend noted pointing towards the front door, which was wide open. The only thing that was preventing the chilly wind from entering his home was a glass door giving us a pleasurable view of his neighbors’ orange and red doors. The host peered towards the speculated stranger and with the sweetest smile said, “That’s my homeless friend.” Funny he said that because we would’ve never came up with that conclusion. He was dressed casually but well and smelled pleasant. Our host gave the “homeless” man his own seat and grabbed an ottoman from another room to sit on. Two is a pair. Three is company. Four is a party.
This new guest changed my mind about every stereotype I had on homeless people. He was incredibly intelligent, absolutely relatable, and truly a lovely individual. He shared his own stories with us, from his alcoholic father to his own drug addiction. He told us how beautiful his kids are and the incredible things these young ones are accomplishing. Our host gave him the only meal he had in his fridge, an Indian frozen dinner. At one point in the evening, our host left us alone in his home for 15-20 minutes to grab some bread. So many things could have gone wrong. I couldn’t fathom how much trust was placed in all of our hands, individually. It was mind opening. When he returned, he had bread, but he also came back with 5 different types of cheeses and another bottle of wine. This experience really expanded my view on people as well as my preconceived notion on trust. Talk about amazing. I’m just glad I had someone I knew next to me to tell me, ‘Hey, this is real life right now.'”
098/100 of #100DaysofConfessions Instagram Project
**Lynn Kim Do is the editor, style influencer and brand consultant behind Neckbreakin’ Style. You can follow more of her adventures here: http://www.neckbreakinstyle.com/**
Photo: Juliano Riscala