We’re surrounded by strangers our whole lives.

Everywhere we go.

Even at home, safe in our beds at night, that constellation of strangers is still out there, orbiting around us.

We’re so used to it we don’t even see it anymore.

Last summer, as an extension of our mission, we asked our Junior Memory Collector team to go out in public and  talk to strangers.  Each stranger was asked to share a memory or thought – just a quick glimpse into their lives.   As you scroll down, you might imagine you’re wandering through a library, tipping random books off the shelf, and opening to a random page.

Nothing too profound.

Just fun to see what you see.

And maybe next time you go outside, or when you stop reading this and look up from your phone, you see the strangers around you a little differently.  For a half-second you wonder: “What’s that person’s story?”

And then you continue on your way.


David, 68

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If you could go back 10 years and tell yourself one sentence what would it be?

“Look after your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.”

David, 18

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What’s the worst trouble you got in as a kid?

“One time I got an F on a test and I drew a line to make it an A.  That didn’t work out too well…my mom beat me.  Hahah!”

Pete, 35

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If you could go back and tell yourself something what would you tell yourself?

I would tell myself to avoid women named Heather.

 

Zoe, 22

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Did you ever get into trouble as a kid?

 

“Yeah, actually! One time I ran away from preschool to go to candy land. I was gone for 3 hours.  They decided to build a fence after that.”

What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?

“The mist over the lake during the mornings at my childhood summer camp.”

 

 

Milton, 89

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What’s a fun fact you know?

If you had one trillion dollar bills you know how long it would take you to count it?  One thousand years.

 

 

 

Sam, 100 (in July)

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“I have sixteen grandchildren. Six regular and ten great.”

 

Jacob Smith (20)

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“I have this recurring  dream that, I meet these people (who are different each time) and they are really annoying. But by the end of the dream I will realize that I’ve known them for all my life and they’re actually sweet but really misunderstood.”

 

Dr. Susana Mayer, 65

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“My neighbor has dementia, and I help care for her. Of course it’s difficult for everyone, but I see some positive parts of it.”

Really? And what are those?

“It’s nice to forget the pain of the preceding day. My neighbor is currently reading a book; she’s read it four times. The other day, she was sitting and reading quietly. Suddenly she looked at me and said, ‘I’ve read this book before, haven’t I?'”

What did you tell her?

“I said yes. She replied, ‘Well that’s good. I don’t need to buy any more books.'”

 

 

 

Linda, 57

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What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?

“The Sun! It’s so fascinating and beautiful. Everything grows in the Sun.”

*

Anne, 27

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How did you and your best friend meet? 

“We met in kindergarten.  Our last names were at the end of the alphabet, so her mom forced her to hang out with me.”

Damon, 25

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“I try to reach out to everyone I can. One time I got locked up for performing on a moving train.”

How did you react?

“It’s just hard to see people being negative about performance when there’s so much positivity coming from it.”

*

Emilia, 23

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What’s the worst trouble you got in as a kid?

“In second grade I cheated on a spelling test. It was the word leaf.”

And you got in trouble?

“Well kinda. I didn’t get caught, but I still know I did it.”

To read an account of our founder’s adventures around America, talking to strangers, you can start here and work backward.

*The words & images in this post were collected by Ben Anderson, Giancarlo Castaldo, Marcus Kunkle, and Derya Yilmaz.


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