I asked X early on in our correspondence to tell me something about himself. He writes me constantly about the people he meets and after about a month of poring over the lives of these total strangers I felt it was time to ask more about X. I was met with some apprehension, then several days later, this e-mail arrived:
I was born in the heatwave of the mid-70s, flower children, peace and drugs. My parents, far too young when they had me didn’t know the scars a broken home would leave and they separated. My mother, unable to raise me on her own, left me sitting on the doorstep of Our Lady of Sorrows. At six-years-old the Nuns agreed it was okay for me to stay on with them.
I lived there for over a decade of my life. I learned to fear God and repair just about anything that broke on the grounds of Our Lady of Sorrows. When I turned eighteen Mother Elizabeth called me into her office, handed me an envelope filled with money, and before sending me out into the world, gave me this piece of advice I’ll never forget:
For with God nothing shall be impossible.
I’ve never been one for praying. Out of respect and gratitude to the Sisters for taking me in, I attended every service, even the ones during the week. But as often as I worshipped I never came away believing in some higher power. Perhaps that’s why I’m here?
I’ve heard God is all about making the impossible possible and teaching lessons is his stock and trade. If that’s true He’s got his work cut out for Him with me.
P.S. This picture was the only thing the previous occupants left behind in my current accommodations. I figure it’s as good a representation as any of how you should imagine me.
As you can imagine, I did some research on the little bit of information X sent me.
I was able to find exactly ONE Our Lady of Souls, built around the mid-1800s under the Franciscan Order, in Milwaukee, near Lake Michigan. There it remained through the 1970s, when X claims to have been born, until a freak accident sent the entire Nun home up in flames, oddly enough, right around the time he would have left. I tried to reach out to the Town Clerk for any records that may have been salvaged, perhaps with a name of a lodger. I was promptly informed:
Dear Sir or Madam,
Had there been any such records they would be in the hands of the Church who, we have on good authority, are not in the business of giving out the kind of sensitive information you are seeking.
Dead end. But I’m not giving up.