Friday, July 27, 2012

When the road defines your destination.

I did not go to the Boulder Farmer's Market this week, as planned, to chat it up with the folks there and search for story ideas. I didn't make it there.

En route to the market from my parking garage, I had to walk past the library. I noticed a big group of people playing drums just beyond the library lawn, down by Boulder Creek. I stopped to see what they were doing. As I was watching, a soft-spoken woman sat down next to me on a bench. She looked different than the typical crew that hangs out at the Farmer's Market, promoting organic fruits and veggies. This woman had a fading red "A" tattoo on her left biceps, ears pierced with large studs, a big backpack and a leather jacket. She lit a cigarette.

What was her story?

Instead of interviewing people at the market for my We Are Boulder County blog (, I decided to hear what she had to say instead. I didn't have anyone quite like her on my blog so far.

I ended up talking to Ariana Strangelove, a transsexual lesbian who is homeless, for nearly an hour. Beyond getting a different perspective of "who are you and why are you here?" for the blog, I also learned about an upcoming protest and several issues that concern the local homeless population --  mainly, when the shelter opens its doors Oct. 15, a surge of homeless people from other communities descend upon Boulder, putting a strain on the resources and thereby putting a strain on the local people, like Ariana, who are trying to rebuild their lives again. Right now, she is scrambling to quickly get her life on track before this huge day, a day that is essentially irrelevant to the rest of Boulder County but a game-changer for this group of people.

I've got a potential story, and a new perspective.

And a lesson that sometimes it's a good idea to take a different road, because your destination might not always be what you set out for it to be.

Ariana Strangelove, sober for 36 days.

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