I stepped out of the Uber and was first approached by a sign that read “Health and Peace Everyone” and immediately knew I was in for a treat. I stepped through the gates and peered through the tinted glass into a house unlike many others. One could easily describe it as a beautiful mess: a mix of old and new, recycled and purchased. I was immediately drawn to the spice shelf that displayed beautiful colors in “Drought” juice bottles. This sparked conversation with my boss, who proceeded to explain that she refrains from buying things. “My house is made out of garbage.” I was stunned. How could someone possibly make something so beautiful out of and take value in someone else’s trash? I suddenly remembered that she had previously mentioned that she made her bicycle herself, yet I had overlooked this until now. I proceeded to the backyard, where there—much to my disbelief—stood a blue school bus. Noticing my jaw drop, Julie’s sister gestured for me to check it out. On the way to the bus, I soon realized that there was a plethora of fruits and vegetables at my feet, which I later found out was Julie’s garden that she ate from exclusively. As I walked through the bus, I felt as if I had entered another home. Instead of bus seats, I approached a bed, running kitchen appliances, a couch, and a bath tub. Julie’s boyfriend Andrew described how this was his home as he lived to travel. After he met Julie, they toured the country together in that same vehicle. While he had a home now, the bus was still a part of him that he was not willing to give up.
As Ajay and I were eating, one of the DFA fellows approached us and asked us to come on the trampoline with her. Soon enough we were jumping in harmony with all the fellows, not even thinking about the miserable heat or our beeping phones. They later trusted us with helping them cook, which meant we were finally being accepted.
Behind each observation and person is a story. My version of authenticity is uncovering these stories, and I plan to continue doing so throughout the entirety of the experience.