A year of loss, but also new friendships

Abraham Villarreal
3 min readSep 4, 2021
This yummy-looking casserole was made at the Good Neighbor Alliance Soup Kitchen where I met Sean and get to see him each month.

A lot of people have said goodbye to old friends in the last year. Fortunately, many new friends have also been made.

I met a guy named Sean who works at a homeless shelter in Sierra Vista, Arizona. I see him there during the evening hours when the residents line up in the kitchen to eat. When I have the blessing of helping out during my monthly volunteer cooking, he’s always there to talk about the latest happenings in life.

Sean is from the Midwest. He’s far away from home, and I’m not sure how he ended up in the Southwest, but he’s still got a little of that midwestern in him. When I cook, I always know to leave out the veggies because he’s a meat and potatoes kind of guy.

Sean eats his tacos with just the ground beef and cheese. His burgers are always plain. Sean is the kind of regular guy you meet on a regular day when you expect regular things to happen. He seems ordinary, but each time we talk I learn about his past relationships, the adventures of his youth, and the ups and downs that come with a not-so-ordinary kind of life.

This year I also met a guy named Chanse. He lives outside of town where the houses are separated by a whole lot of space since that’s the way people like it when they live outside of town. He drives almost an hour to work each morning because he loves working for a small, tight knit community where everyone seems to take pride in making little changes for the better.

When I first met Chanse, he showed me around his office and then for no reason we came up with a Halloween Clean Up Day event. We dressed up in our favorite costumes and on a hot October 31 we went out and picked up trash. Drivers honked at us, and our silly outfits made a few people chuckle. I’m looking forward to our next Halloween adventure.

At one of my favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants where you could count the number of chairs and where only one waitress is needed, I met a cook named Patty. She noticed that I kept ordering the same two dishes and so she came up to me and told me that she could also make other things that I might like.

I asked her if she could make me a caldo de queso, and without pause she said she would have it the next time…

Abraham Villarreal

People are interesting. I write about them and what makes them interesting.