I Want to Know Your Story
Currently as I write this I’m staring at a picture that a guest drew of me and there is another one singing Hound Dog outside my window. Moments like this remind me how lucky I am to have the opportunity and privilege to get to know the guests that come into the Marquard Center. Listening to my own personal concert is quite lovely and makes me think of my grandmother who had a deep love for all things Elvis Presley.
Sara recently told me that I am secretly artsy which led to a discussion about my own personal taste in music. More often than not you will find me listening to someone that hasn’t quite been discovered yet or a B-side track rather than something mainstream. To me, that is usually where you will hear the more meaningful words. The stories that might not be as popular but need to be heard the most.
I think the way I express my art most is through people. When I meet someone, I want to know their story, the things that they are passionate about, I want to see their face light up as they tell me about their art. I want to know what makes them feel alive. I paint the picture of their life in my mind and their stories live on through me. Serving at the Marquard Center gives me the chance to hear a lot of stories because many of the guests don’t have much social interaction outside of our soup kitchen. I’ve lost track of time listening to guests and found myself replaying their stories in my head as I lie in my bed at night.
A moment that stands out is when a guest that had only been in once before became so excited that I remembered his name. He told me that I made him feel like a somebody and then as if he could see into my soul, he felt compelled to tell me that someday I would meet someone that would make my heart melt and I would fall completely in love. I listened on as he told me about the great love of his life and how he lost everything after he lost her. It was a story full of addictions, heartache, and depression that left a lasting mark on my own heart.
Then there was the Marine that I found sitting on one of our benches one evening. I mentioned that my cousin was a Marine and he immediately began telling me his war stories and what it felt like to come back home. He didn’t hold back and told me about how much therapy he needed to even be able to talk about his experiences with me. I felt honored to be let in and thankful that I had decided to walk outside at that moment. When he got up to leave, I thanked him for his service and extended my hand to shake his. He then took my hand and left me speechless when he thanked me for my service.
Every story is unique in its own way. Some guests would rather talk to me about sports or what kind of music I’m currently listening to rather than talk about the past. There is one thing that remains true in my heart though: Everybody deserves to have their story heard. And, everybody deserves to know that there are people out there that care enough to ask. So next time you see someone on the streets please stop and ask them about their story. You might find me running around the streets of Chicago doing the same.