Living on the fringe is a beautiful thing that we as humans are fascinated by when living vicariously through other mediums. But, when facing the fringe in reality, suddenly the transformation transpires into a lunatic fringe. A man was once exiled from his hometown in Dallas to come to Minneapolis for alcohol recovery treatment due to Minnesota’s powerful programs that have great recovery rates.
This is a story that I will be telling about a man who fell off the face of the earth. His alias will be, “Shepard”, a man whose name and identity can only be traced down to his social security number. Shepard’s story needs to be told to the world because not many have encountered a drifter of such in their lifetime. But, I have and I hope no one has to have such a friendship that I have experienced because no one should ever see someone live the way that Shepard does.
Alcoholism is a real thing. There are varying degrees of it and many do not come to accept it until it is too late. Others never accept it at all.
When I met Shepard, we became friends because we were both lost in translation. Knowing very little about each other, we trusted each other and enjoyed very many intellectual conversations that would last till four in the morning.
He was an eccentric genius and I was a fool. A jester who never realized the fact that he was a severe alcoholic until many months later.
For almost two years, I tried to help him but it was a lost cause. It was sickening to see someone slowly die in front of my eyes.
When we met, he was in the midst of a relapse.
This is a story of potential redemption. I want to share it with you in small increments because his liberation is finally beginning as you read these words. If you are reading this years later then I hope this story ends well.
Prior to his departure, I eliminated his friendship from my life because as much as I loved him, there was no more room for him in my life because he slowly began to drag others down with him. Now, I pray sometimes that we can cross paths again because now his gone.
Many can relate to what I am about to convey across with my words because it is a story of promises, help, heartbreak, frustration and an ultimate friendship that will never be forgotten.
His story is his history of how he has survived like no one else has ever done so and we can all learn something about survival in today’s cruel world.
Changing lanes, Shepard hit a point where he stopped paying his taxes, became a squatter, shoplifted from grocery stores, and cut every corner of taking care of one’s self because his life revolved around drinking twenty Natural Light’s a day. Supposively he was an email monkey for Morgan Stanley and he made cash by walking through the alleys of Minneapolis where he found random odds and ends and sold them for dirt cheap on craigslist for extra cash.
These are just a few examples of his minimalism ways to survive.
He has no form of identification that is valid, but yet he has a college degree and a Roy Lichtenstein painting that he left for me before he got the hell out of Dodge. This is his most prized possession that he paid over five thousand dollars for and it is in my possession with the promise that he will return one day from his sojourn; a vision quest.
Right now, Shepard is in one of the most dangerous cities in the US searching for his identity once again, trying to get back in the system of society one step at a time, slowly eliminating his alcoholism with baby steps. This is only because now he has no choice.
He is in a do or die situation and I hope he becomes a doer.
Shepard can get better because he is not dead yet. We all need to remember this because no matter how bad our problems are, there is someone who has it worse than you. Most importantly never trade your problems with another.
Why would I have ever become friends or care about someone like this? Well, he saved my life at one point. Shepard saved me from my mind and soul and the only way I could repay him was with my friendship.
The night before I met him, I prayed to God that someone would help me with my maniacal mayhem that was spiraling at ten trillion miles an hour in my head. The next day, this strange man found me holding a DSLR camera. Without hesitation, this stranger and I were on a mission sent from God.
But in return, I tried saving his life for quite some time, but I failed him.
Our stories will go on, and so does his. I must tell his story to bring perspective to the notion of recovery, survival, and appreciation.
Shepard is out there in Los Angeles right now, probably standing in a 7/11 microwaving half of a McDonald’s hamburger, realizing how good his life was when he used to shoplift steaks from Cub Foods so that he could eat one good meal a day in his cramped studio apartment in Uptown, Minneapolis.
I am inviting you to follow my telling of this story that will be told in small parts, and I would love to hear your thoughts and comments about the past, present, and future events that are unfolding with my fringed friend Shepard.
Remember, “The Zos Knows”.
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