He had tattoos all over his face, his arms, every part of him that I could see. We weren’t together but we were in the same place. We gradually entered into conversation. The way people do who end up in the same place, at the same time, for a chunk of time.
He used to be in prison. By his own admission he “used to be a criminal”. When the discussion centered around tattoos he said his face tattoos hurt him more emotionally then they ever did physically. He shared stories of how others treated him. Once he was in a store looking at fishing gear. A young boy came up to him and started talking to him about going fishing, they were having a nice conversation about fishing. The little boy never mentioned his tattoos, or seemed bothered by them. The young boy’s mother shows up and pulls him away telling the child she warned him about “talking to people like that”. There were other similar stories.
He also shared how he never thought he would be the kind of person he is today. A father, a stepfather, a business man, a philanthropist, a prison minister, a community minded man. But he is.
All of us who had by whatever force ended up in this same place, participated in the conversation. It was obvious our lives came from very diverse origins. But in talking we discovered a connection through places we had been, people we knew, things we found funny. We discussed the drug crisis in our world, and the suffering of a family in crisis. We made each other laugh.
We became comfortable with one another through expression and discussion. It’s what you do when you meet as strangers and then….talk.
Of course I noticed his tattoos when I met him. But if ever I meet him again, I’ll know him by his voice and his story.