Christian. A name suited for him because he was hospitable and kind when I began to talk with him.
“I looks like the lonely hearts club,” I told him as I say among five people all sitting alone, staring at their phones. All but one. Christian. An ex Marine and an artist. Neither which he set out to do with his life.
When I met Christian he was looking at a drawing book filled with geometric designs. The pages decorated in all different patterns and lines, like his arms. Hoping to get a story, I asked him if he’d design any of his tattoos but he hadn’t. He was new to art. Only about 9 months in his young 31 years.
I recognized by one of his tats that he might be a skater. He was. As in the past tense. Like me, he had enough of the tumbling and falling. Just days after his 30 birthday, Christian suffered a bad accident that had him in the ICU for 5 days. When he came too, Christian learned he had suffered major nerve and brain damage.
Meeting him, you’d never know he had to relearn how to use the right side of his body all over again. His goal of being a psychiatrist no longer seems possible because the trauma his brain experienced makes researching and writing difficult.
Born in California, his parents moved him to the Bronx in New York. He would live there until just after September 11th, when his mother moved to Richmond, VA. While going with his friend to the recruiting office, Christian found himself signing up too. And after nine years, he left. And a few months later, it would be a skateboarding accident that would take him down.
But in a sense it freed him too. This past February, after moving back to California to live and rehabilitate with a brother who was a physical therapist, Christian took up drawing. Using the right side of his brian for the creative good. He was happy to show me his portfolio, and to have the conversation. He says he likes to talk and, like me, learn people’s stories.
After narrowly escaping death, Christian has learned to embrace life, and all the joys in it. Like meeting other people. The accident had also kept him spiritually grounded. Having grew up in a Jehovah Witness family Christian seems to relate more with Buddha than anything else. He told me he likes to study all religions. But today it’s people, art and life.
I think Christ would agree, and would enjoy spending the time I got to spent with someone who bears his name.