How We Met — Disco Taco

Many of you asked how I met each person I have interviewed for Another Door Opens, so this How We Met series is an answer to how I met the first 10 generous Another Door Opens people. Thank you for reading. Here is today’s short story. 

DISCO TACO

One gray weekend, I decided to stop thinking about it and do it.

The idea for this Another Door Opens project had been in my mind for a long time, and finally something needed to change.

If you never do, you’ll never know.

The worst that could happen is you don’t try.

The second worst that could happen is no one will talk with you.

So what if you’re not the best writer on the planet.

So what if you’re not the best photographer on the planet.

So what if you’re not the best storyteller on the planet.

Imperfections and vulnerability don’t make your efforts less worthwhile.

Do it.

It would be an experiment as short or as long as I chose to make it.

But I believed and still do in the core reason for doing this. Everyone has a story. Everyone wants to be heard. And we benefit by sharing our stories.

With new resolve, I immediately started looking for opportunities.

I stopped for lunch at a little spot called Disco Taco, and although I didn’t know it at the time, I walked through my first door without any bright lights or flashing signs.

I think it was Agnes de Mille who said, “No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made.”

As I talked with David Medina at the restaurant, and as I watched him interact with other customers, a voice inside said, ask him… start here.

The busy restaurant cleared out quickly, and before I’d finished my lunch, the place was empty.

“Can I run something by you?” I asked.

“Sure!” he said enthusiastically.

It was my first time to say what I was doing.

I explained the project in very short form, then asked David if he’d be willing to have me come back the next day to do an interview and take a few pictures.

“Yes! Why not?”

The first door opened!

Thank you, David. Thank you.

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How We Met — Soul of a Cowboy

Many of you asked how I met each person I have interviewed for Another Door Opens, so this How We Met series is an answer to how I met the first 10 generous Another Door Opens people. Thank you for reading. Here is today’s short story.

SOUL OF A COWBOY

Greg Hathcock’s cowboy boots led him straight to my table and into my life at a Ruidoso, New Mexico, coffee shop.

Sixty-eight years old then, and 69 now, he stood to my right — his eyes as earnest and inquisitive as his questions. “I needed to come over here and tell you to have a good day,” he began.

Where are you from? Why are you here? What do you do? What are you working on? Are you married? Do you have children? Why? Why? Why?

Some days later, he arrived at the coffee shop with something he wanted me to read. A manuscript for a movie. I read the first chapter. And I loved it.

Energetic and quick-witted, he told animated stories like there was no tomorrow. Some about bull riding, others about his high school days and before I could speak, he hopped up and out the door to retrieve proof. Riding shotgun in his car was a large tattered album filled with memorabilia. He came back inside holding something that he clearly cherished.

Though worn, it was amazingly detailed. Medals, ribbons, newspaper clippings. All of his stories were there in print — accolades listed, records broken, awards won. Although he tempered mention of his accomplishments with some humility, it was clear to see how proud he was and rightly so.

That day I told him about Another Door Opens, and asked if I could interview him. He said he would do whatever he could to help me. “Just tell me what to do!”

We had to decide on a door, so we chose to do the interview at his restaurant, the Grazing Bull, in nearby Capitan.

I pulled into the gravel lot on the edge of town. Amber hillsides and open spaces reminded me I was in the land of Billy the Kid.

The austere exterior of the Grazing Bull gave little hint of the gem inside. And before I was through the door, I could hear the easy vocals and guitar of musician Mark Remington.

You already know the rest. We sat down at a pine table. Life lessons shared. And new friendship found.

Thank you, Greg.

How We Met — Old Roads and Fresh Starts

Many of you asked how I met each person I have interviewed for Another Door Opens, so this How We Met series is an answer to how I met the first 10 generous Another Door Opens people. Thank you for reading. Here is today’s short story.

OLD ROADS AND FRESH STARTS

At the time, I didn’t think anything of parking my car in the lot at the drive-thru coffee window.

I realize now, that might have seemed odd.

I was just curious to know who was working in such a tiny box. It was delightfully inviting from the road, so I thought I’d try my luck at finding my door for the day.

About as bizarre as a pedestrian going through a McDonald’s drive-thru, I walked up to the window, said good morning, and ordered an iced coffee.

Kate Broeren, who was working there, didn’t blink an eye and was pleasant and easy-going. I told her why I was walking up rather than driving up, briefly mentioning the Another Door Opens project.  I told her I believe everybody has a story. And would she be willing to talk with me as part of the project?

A car drove up, so I stepped aside to let Kate work and to let them order.

Across the road, I glimpsed BNSF trains rumbling by behind a thin wall of pine.

I went back to the window, and Kate kindly agreed to talk with me. And so we began. Between thoughts and questions, cars would come up, we’d break, and I’d step aside.

Route 66 was getting busier.

After each car left, we resumed.

The last thing Kate said to me, about some of the discomfort she was feeling in her life at that time, was ‘this too shall pass.’ And she’s right.

Thank you, Kate.

How We Met — Hey Hey Paula

Many of you asked how I met each person I have interviewed for Another Door Opens, so this How We Met series is an answer to how I met the first 10 generous Another Door Opens people. Thank you for reading. Here is today’s short story.

HEY HEY PAULA

The decision was made early that morning. I would approach the day with a sense of curiosity and fearlessness.

Some days that comes more naturally than others. Perhaps on this morning, I felt the need to bolster my confidence some. I had to muster the guts to find another door.

The door part is easy. It’s the people part that can be challenging. As a gesture to this commitment, I made sure my camera and recorder batteries were charged and that my notebook and pen were easily accessible. If an opportunity arose, I wanted to be ready.

As I approached Cottonwood, Arizona, it was around lunchtime and I planned to look for a restaurant there.

Just before I reached the historic old town section of Cottonwood, a thrift shop on the left caught my eye. Immediately, I felt compelled to stop. That was the next door.

But I kept driving, maybe out of fear of approaching unknown people at random for a project that had been in existence for all of about two weeks. No sooner had I talked myself out of stopping, and forgotten about eating, I was quickly back onto a desert road.

“Turn around. Just go back there,” I said to myself.

And so I did.

I did a U-turn and drove back to Paula’s Attic, parked the car and went inside with my camera, recorder, notebook, pen, all of it. That was kind of presumptuous.

I walked in the door and Paula came out from the back. We said hello and she told me a little about the store and asked where I was from. When she asked what I was doing, I told her about Another Door Opens. Then, was there any chance she’d like to talk with me as part of the project, I asked.

She thought about it, then said “why not.” We sat in two high chairs near the glass counter in front, and began the interview.

Feeling mutually blessed to have met, we hugged goodbye and wished each other well. Thank you, Paula.

How We Met — Modern Management/Old Soul

Many of you asked how I met each person I have interviewed for Another Door Opens, so this How We Met series is an answer to how I met the first 10 generous Another Door Opens people. Thank you for reading. Here is today’s short story.

MODERN MANAGEMENT/OLD SOUL

It wasn’t that I’d driven very far so much as I was ready for a rest. That morning, I left Flagstaff, Arizona, and headed south toward Sedona, and on the sage advice of my friend Michael, I took the scenic Highway 89A. As I drove that winding stretch of road, my mind shifted back and forth between scenery-induced wonder and cliff-induced awareness.

I continued through other-worldly Sedona, over to Cottonwood then through the old copper mining town of Jerome when I decided to stop for the day in Prescott, “Everybody’s Hometown.” I picked the Hassayampa Inn, a 1920’s-era hotel near the Courthouse Square.

While checking in at the front desk, the manager, Michael Kouvelas, introduced himself and wanted to make sure I’d parked my vehicle in a spot that would not be ticketed. He walked back out with me to direct me to a better spot, helped me with my bags and told me a little about the hotel. I remember he used the word “portecochere” which I had never heard before. Due to context, I knew what he was talking about as he pointed out the narrow drive where the old Model Ts once arrived. Still, I made a mental note to look it up and figure out how it was spelled.

When he asked about my travels, I told him about the storytelling project I was working on — Another Door Opens. He lit up and said there were some wonderful doors in the hotel, including the stained-glass entrance to the Arizona Ballroom. I asked if I could interview him. He said yes.

Later that afternoon, I returned to the main lobby as planned, where we did the interview and took a few photos. Respect is the number one offering at the Hassayampa Inn, and they aim to make every guest feel like family.  Thank you, Michael.

How We Met — Designing a New Future

Hello Readers, I’m taking a walk back and sharing with you how I met the first 10 people of the Another Door Opens project. I began with the most recent and am working my way back to the first. 

DESIGNING A NEW FUTURE

I had just come back to Chicago after about nine months of traveling and living out of a suitcase, and I was looking forward to boxing and kickboxing again with my friend Aaron.

Whenever I need to feel grounded in a new city — an experience I became accustomed to after moving around for more than 13 years for work — I find a place where I can do martial arts, boxing, kickboxing.

I’d only recently started down the path of opening new doors in the form of this Another Door Opens project, and I was eager to find the next person behind their door…. To hear their story… To ask them about their life… To share more deeply in the human experience.

Aaron knew of my project and was enthusiastic and encouraging. Then he mentioned his friend and colleague, Justin — telling me little, but emphatic that I should talk to him. I met Justin not long after and we agreed to meet again for an interview. He was 25 and making big changes in his life.

We sat on the floor at the gym, surrounded by heavy bags, and he told me his story with honesty, ownership, humility and pride. Thank you, Justin!

How We Met — Hats Off

Many of you asked how I met each person I have interviewed for Another Door Opens, so this How We Met series is an answer to how I met the first 10 generous Another Door Opens people. Thank you for reading. Here is today’s short story.

Hats Off

It was mid-summer in the Windy City, and the urban heatwave was blanketing Chicago.

I wanted to find another door. But which one?

I decided to see where the sidewalk would take me.

Back in time and offtrack is where it took me. Or so I thought.

The plain but smart storefront of Goorin Bros hat shop had caught my attention many times and caused me to swerve a time or two, yet I don’t have a good reason for not stopping in sooner.

Inside, the big band music, ornate carpets, an aged chandelier and the caramel colored kaleidoscope of timeless hats was intoxicating.

Tanya Jaramilla, the shopkeeper,  greeted me with a bright easy smile and confirmed for me the surroundings were intended to evoke a sense of nostalgia for decades past.

Tanya answered every one of my hat-related and shop-related questions with enthusiasm, knowledge and ease.  As she gave me her business card, I asked her about talking with me for the next Another Door Opens story. She agreed.

One hour later, when Tanya’s colleague came in, I returned. We sat down on the old-fashioned sofa, and the conversation began. Thank you, Tanya.