Today I was a man who worked and who sat in a circle with four others.

We shared stories about our lives.

One woman spoke up. She said, “I’m about a week away from needing food stamps.” She said, “My husband and I have two kids and we’re not quite sure how to raise them.” She said, “We close our eyes and look away as a form of parenting.”

Then the man spoke up. He said, “My wife’s health is deteriorating and she can’t work.” He said, “We’re surviving on a single income.” He said, “We live in a one bedroom apartment about twenty-two miles from the beach.” He said, “I realized at forty-years-old that my dreams were too painful to surrender.” He said, “I’d rather not disclose my wife’s disease.”

Another man spoke up. He said, “I met my husband in Italy.” He said, “My toes are squared-off because of ballet.” He said, “I hate ballet.”

Then the other woman spoke up. She said, “I’ve had four open heart surgeries, one at fourteen months, one at three years, one at seven years, and the worst one at thirteen.” She said, “I was born with a backwards heart.” She said, “Really, my heart is backwards in my chest.” She said, “In the womb, everyone’s heart is backwards, but it eventually turns before you’re born.” She said, “But mine didn’t turn.” She said, “So I have a thirty-seven-year-old male’s aorta and plastic valves.” She said, “I’m happy.”

They all looked at me. They wanted my story.

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