101 Days, 101 Strangers, 101 Stories: Day 75

His name is Keffin. His parents let his then three year old sister name him. He thinks she meant “Kevin” but his parents thought it was profound and so Keffin it was.

This evening, I was studying at a café with a friend. I approached Keffin, the barista, and told him about my project, asking if he’d share his story with me.

“Well”, he said, “have I got the story for you”.

Keffin was born in Vancouver to “a gay father and an unemployed mother”. His upbringing was rough, to say the least. He moved between foster “homes”, never quite feeling like he belonged. Along the way, he was told he had a mental disability and was forced to see specialists to help him overcome the condition.

The psychiatrists would tell him he had a problem. One even told him he was a sociopath. But then one day, he went to an appointment that panned out a little bit differently. “She told me there was nothing wrong with me”, Keffin explained, smiling. It was amazing for him to hear those words out loud from someone else. Deep down, Keffin knew he was okay. But after hearing over and over again that there was something deeply wrong with him, it was a breath of fresh air to hear something different.

Eventually, Keffin was ejected from the foster care system. He moved to New Mexico, and then to Santa Fe, and lived in each place for a while, learning and living and experiencing things along the way.

“I went to jail”, Keffin said in passing. Of course, I had to stop him mid-sentence and get him to explain. It turns out he was arrested, “hand cuffs and the whole bit”, because his tail light was burnt out. There were so many different police forces in New Mexico that they had nothing better to do. “So I was thrown into a jail cell for six hours with a diabetic. I woke up and was told I’d been bailed out. I don’t know what the point of that was”, he said. I couldn’t help but laugh.

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Eventually, Keffin found himself back in Vancouver. He started from scratch here, working hard to make his way. He worked at Starbucks at one point, where he met his now fiancee. His life has been completely transformed. He’s studying now to become a doctor.

“Sometimes, all it takes is one person who believes in you to give you a chance in this world”. He explained how this has kind of been a common thread throughout his experiences, from the doctor who told him he would be okay, to his loving fiancée and her belief in him.

When I started talking to Keffin, I was immediately charmed by his sense of humour and impressive vernacular. “Profundity”, “trite”, and “forsaken” were just a few of the words he used casually that intrigued me.

He told me more about love, loss, and hope. Keffin believes that hope is the one thing that at the end of it all gets people through the day. It cannot be denied or measured, but it exists and it has uplifting capabilities, he explained.

Toward the end of our encounter, Keffin expressed his appreciation for the conversation we’d had. “It’s cathartic”, he said, “speaking so candidly and unloading this weight on a complete stranger who is so warmly receptive.” And it was a pleasure to speak with him. He so kindly invited my friend and I to a barbecue that he and his fiancée are hosting, so hopefully we will meet again soon.


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