Stranger 016


What’s your full name? 

Charles Matthew Hardeman

Were you named after anyone?

Yes, my grandfather on my dad’s side. When he was born his mother gave him this admittedly bizarre southern name that began with a C that no one knew how to spell. This was an extremely tiny town in Georgia in the ’20s so I’m admittedly not surprised that they just wrote CJ on his birth certificate.

When he got to early adulthood and worked for the city they gave him the option to choose what the C and the J stood for. I have no idea why he chose Charles and James. I found out all of this after he passed. He was a wonderful human being, though. As much I don’t like the name and have never used it, it’s an honor to be named after him.

What’s your average day like?

I get up at 6ish in the morning most days for my job doing over the phone tech support for a pretty big tech company. Possibly the biggest. My shifts are 7am-4pm so while I hate being up that early for anything, it affords me to have my nights free. I try to fit in a movie a day if I can, but typically when it’s winding down time I just put Seinfeld on repeat. Throughout the day I’m incessantly checking all of my social media outlets and keeping up with folks I love from all over the world.

 How far away do you live from where you were born?  

857 miles, according to the maps app, though it often feels like a million. I was born in a small Alabama town called Eufaula. Currently residing in Austin, Tx.

What do you consider to be your home?

As far as a place that feels like home, that would be Dothan, Al. Not a whole lot bigger than Eufuala, but what it lacked that big cities could offer it made up for in life moments and people that would be friends and shall be til the end of my days. Many of the people I care about most in this world still reside there and to me that’s what Home really is, a place where you truly feel like you belong. It’s where nearly all of my “firsts” took place. It’ll always be special to me.

What’s your ideal way to spend the holidays?

This is one of the first times in nearly two decades that I haven’t been working retail during the holidays and man it’s such a drastic change. I’m actually sort of enjoying them for once. I’d like to keep this feeling going if I can.

What items do you always take with you when you leave the house?

Keys, phone and that PMA! (Positive Mental Attitude)

When you look in the mirror, what do you notice first?

I see a face that I used to loathe that I’ve finally in recent years come to like and appreciate. I see that scared and shy little boy that still lives underneath and can at times still be the one on display.

While I don’t think I look my age when I look myself in the face I can feel it. I think about all the years and how I got to this point and more so I ask myself, “Where do we go from here? What comes next?” I never really have an answer and I think I like it that way.

If you could change something about your appearance, what would it be?

These godforsaken teeth. They have been the bane of my existence since I was very young. Some sort of hereditary trait that affects the enamel in my teeth coupled with years of severe depression didn’t help much. My mom had nearly all of hers pulled when she was younger than I am now. They’ve always kept me from fully putting myself into things and I always tell myself I’m gonna do something about them and never do. The shame is so strong. Another front one cracked and broke a few days ago and now I have a slight lisp at times. I’ve been making strides towards bettering myself these past few years. I hope I finally get the gumption to fix these bastards somehow, someway. I’d really love a gold one or three.

What do you first notice in strangers? 

always look at people’s shoes first. You can tell a lot about folks by the shoes they are wearing. Anything from music tastes to aesthetic preferences to their overall self-worth and demeanor. I should write something about it.  

What do think people say about you?

I think they’d say I’m kind, funny, easy to talk and open up to, often late, one hell of a procrastinator, a little spooky.

What would you hope they would say?  

Pretty much what I answered in the previous question, even the not so positive ones as they help make me want to be a better me.  

 What is your proudest moment? Biggest victory?

Surviving my early teens. It sounds gross or cheesy or cliche but man did I have a lot of sadness in me that I didn’t have any way of expressing or anyone to express it to. Those thoughts tend to lead you to thinking of easy ways out but luckily I held out and never lost hope that this would be a life worth living. I’m so fucking thankful that I did.  

What is your biggest regret? Biggest failure?

This one’s tough for me because I’m very much a believer in everything being part of the journey. Jobs have come and gone as have relationships but I wouldn’t consider any of them failures. They were just steps that led to being right where I am now.  

If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?

I would believe in myself more. At the core of all my half-assed endeavors is me just not believing in myself.

What makes life worth living?

The uniqueness of it. The fact that no two days are the same. Anything can and will happen. Sometimes good sometimes bad but it’s at least something happening. There’s at least breath in my lungs and I’m feeling every moment of it. The possibility of tomorrow and what it may bring is plenty to keep me not just moving forward but being hopeful and positive about it.

What is the one rule you try to live by? Do you feel successful at following it?

I talk about PMA a lot and while it sounds like awful hippy bullshit, it’s tremendous and I wholeheartedly believe in it. Putting positivity out into the ether especially as the world gets more and more negative to the point of dwelling in it and living for it. I just try to live my life as a light amongst the bullshit and am constantly hopeful that it inspires others to do the same.

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