because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Finish Line

Laura Jane Williams

So I know this guy, and I love him.

He’s a teacher. A cheerleader. An example.

You’ve never seen a smile that can light up a room like his. In his hometown, walking into the local bar for an espresso and brioche, he is greeted by handfuls of people who hug him, kiss his cheek, share a joke. He asks about them, their family, their work. Jokes back. Asks, “how are you?” and listens to the answer. Gives a shit, in all the novelty that entails.

At his parents’ house, he talks with his father about the latest ethical hunt, and makes funny voices when he speaks with his nephew. At his sisters house he mans the barbecue and fills up glasses. In his own house he makes sure you’ve got towels and enough bedding, telling you just to knock if you need anything. He’s right there.

Love. That’s his word. Everyone has one. I don’t think I’m strong enough for that to be my word. I’ll settle for authentic. Authentically in awe of him.

He’s Italian.

(The good kind.)

Survivor of heartbreak.

Had nothing to lose when, three years ago, he packed his bags and got a flight to America.

Land of Dreams! And oh, how he dreams.

Alex – did I tell you his name is Alex? Alessandro – was 34, back then. Happy as he ever was in his small Italian hometown, near Brescia, married, living down the road from his parents. And then suddenly it just wasn’t that way anymore. And he knew he could become something else.

So he took a chance.

Wouldn’t be beaten.

Took a leap.

I love a good leaper. I adore seeing people grab their life by the balls, realising, with urgency and passion, that this one shot is all they’ve got and so by fucking GAGA they have to own it. That they must seek their truth, and live it, honestly and boldly.

Alex is so very bold.

He lives in Illinois now. Stays in the house of his girlfriend’s mother, helping her around the house, like a very good son-in-law might. And he’s almost graduated. Set out to get himself an education – something he never did, in the formal sense, back as a labourer in Italy – and did it!

This man, a man who could barely say “hello” and “thank you” and “here let me help you with that” in English 48 months ago has taken courses in advanced economics and financial forecasting, operations management and lots of other things that I don’t understand, either. Mastered two languages – English, and academia. I only speak one of those.

He has a college scholarship. Was appointed Italian Ambassador for his university by the dean. Has almost completed a four-year degree in three. The talented motherfucker is on the verge of a career consulting for Non-Government Organisations, edging towards the next step in this new life working for charities and non-profits. Plans on working in natural disaster management: basically, when the world goes tits up it’s Alex who will be fighting our corner.

He calls it humanitarian help.

I call it being a rockstar.

He makes me want to be better.

I am already better than I was, for knowing him. For seeing what’s possible.


Now the money has run out. So he can’t graduate. Can’t move forward. Not without about £8,000.


It’s only money.

Only fucking money.

To think only a few thousand dollars stands between this man and his future is bullshit. Utter bollocks. If I thought a few thousand dollars was the barrier to my dream, or your dream, or… anyone’s dream… I just… It’s only money. And yet. He needs it.

It’s nothing, really.

And yet it is everything.

So, we rally. We see what we can do to help, when he has helped so many. Champion the champions. Shout about the ones who, for this moment, even though they’re a bit devastated to ask when they’ve come so far on their own steam, need a cheer over the finish line.

Because sometimes, it isn’t about what we can do alone. It’s what we can do for everybody.

Alex taught me that.

Here I am, then, telling you - if you dream. If you want more. If, beyond an age where most of us would accept that this was it, you can imagine starting totally over again... if Alex inspires you like he inspires me... you can donate.



The gift of graduation.

I donated what I could afford. It might seem silly to write a blog post about somebody you guys have never met, nor will. But of the few thousand people who read this website, I know some of you will want to do something. Because you get it. And for that, I am so grateful.

Alex's future sister-in-law set up a GoFundMe campaign for Alex here

Disclaimer: I am totally invested in this guy, and absolutely biased towards his greatness, too. He makes great seafood pasta.

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