Paul’s Photos || MICHAEL

It would be hard to exaggerate the effect he had on me and the others in the office.  For a good while I snapped photos while he told us stories from his life.  He’s 21 and has been in San Francisco for two weeks. To say he was accessible and open would be an absurd understatement.  He was, as they say, an open book. He was born in a small town on the coast of Oregon.  His father abandoned the family when Michael was three.  “I guess he preferred his freedom over his own flesh.”  He didn’t say it angrily.  It was almost matter-of-fact.

I know too many men whose fathers disappeared early in their lives.  It shapes them, leaving them to discover on their own what it means to grow into manhood.  His mother was unstable but managed to keep their home together until his 18th birthday.  Then she disappeared.  He later found her homeless, living in a broken-down shed.  Michael left town and traveled alone for several years.

And then two weeks ago he found his way to San Francisco.  “Life is always getting better,” he said. “I happen to be at the bottom just now, but it’s all better and better from here.”

– Paul Morris


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