As a writer, I’m a big fan of details. I realize that it’s hard to go through life without them. Everything we know, every person we come in contact with, every experience has a host of details that come together to create the bigger picture. Life is in the details.
Before talking with Juan, I mean really talking and being intentional in our conversation, I couldn’t share many details about him. We had a few classes together, baseball caps are a permanent part of his wardrobe, and he was fearless when it came to sporting his man-bun. These were small details that I, and probably several other classmates, picked out in the course of seeing him throughout the semester in class and around campus.
However, I found that these details didn’t really do enough justice to his character. There was more to Juan than his hats and man-bun and hearing him give the professor an answer every now and then. There were more details to his life that made this Juan different. Now, I don’t believe one person can ever know all of the details that make a person, and that’s when they spend years and years together. I spent a little less than an hour in conversation with Juan so I feel like I would be insulting to us both for me to say that I know Juan because honestly, I don’t. However, in that hour spent, I gained details that enable me to share with you a little bit more of him.
For starters, I doubt that you’ll meet a big-brother that more proud of his siblings than Juan is of his young brother and sisters. When he spoke of the bond he shared with his brother, and how proud and impressed he was with his sisters’ successes as they pursue ballet, you could clearly see that he’s their biggest fan. At the risk of being cheesy, I’ll call it heartwarming.
Also, the way he spoke of his old home in Puerto Rico, and hearing some of his childhood memories of strolling the beaches in old San Juan, and even getting a mental image of a kid-version of Juan falling down stairs and splitting his chin open was also pretty great. I personally always enjoy when people share memories; they’re like photographs that you don’t have to give back when you’re done looking at it.
There was also a tremendous amount of love and respect for his parents. I don’t know a lot of twenty-something year-olds that can’t recall every going through a rough patch with their parents, but hearing Juan speak of his, and then him coming to the realization that he was more appreciative of his parents than ever really added to big picture that was Juan.
We talked about our weaknesses, what makes us happy, embarrassing moments; things that are meant to help people find common ground with one another and I was grateful for that time. I realized that I would never get the full story, but that I would have enough details to get a better understanding of someone who until that point, was just someone I spoke to in class and at random moments around campus. But now I know that he’s extremely passionate about soccer and that he willingly admits to getting distracted easily (but who doesn’t?) but overall he’s proud of who is and that the love his parents have showed him over the years means more than he can express. Now I know Juan just a little bit better because of the details.