"Best of" is so subjective. My best moments usually involve some sort of a unique experience. The awesome power of a store doing some good in the world. Getting to meet some amazing people. Fun to sit back and reflect on all the things seen, places gone, connections made and stories told this year.
In 2013, I got to: hunt for pythons in the Everglades with a man on a mission for redemption, discover a real Fountain of Youth in my own backyard and make portraits of reenactors at the original one in St. Augustine, watch a woman dedicated to helping homeless kids find a way to do their laundry, document a Quidditch tournament and earn a whole new appreciation for one of the toughest sports I’ve ever seen played, cheer for a young woman who’s battled cancer since she was a kid as she walked across the stage at her high school graduation, witness an amazing transformation as Miss Teen America found her true self in the woods, meet a mom whose 12-year-old killed her 2-year-old, be in awe of the incredible 99-year-old Mister Newton who finds meaning in the working life (still!), spend time getting to know a pastor and some sex offenders in the middle of the sugar cane fields, witness 15-year-old Davion Only take to the pulpit and plead for a forever family, hear stories of secrets and shame as told by some incredibly brave men — all survivors of military sexual trauma, and watch an inredible woman’s life-changing revelation as she let go and let dog.
And one of the things I’m most proud of is finding some incredible human interest stories in my backyard for a column that writer John Woodrow Cox and I have called Dispatches From Next Door. We practice what our editor calls “essentialism” and found that roughly 500 words and one photo have surprisingly allowed us to do and say a lot. Meet Diamond Jim — a man who’s looking for love in Sun City Center, a haitian hospital janitor and a young cancer patient with an unlikely bond, a rape survivor learning to trust again with the help of horses, and Hollywood Kim, who, cast off, finds peace from her crazy life on the quiet calm of a boat and allowed John to work the words “purple battery-operated dildo” into a story.