Alexis Pleus and Penny Stringfield of Truth Pharm featured in The Guardian Article by Chris Arnade

Penny by Chris Arnade

Alexis Pleus and Penny Stringfield of Truth Pharm featured in The Guardian Article by Chris Arnade

Penny emailed me and said, I met this guy, he’s the real deal. His name is Chris Arnade, he writes for The Guardian and he wants to know what’s happening in our area.

I was having a particularly rough and down week emotionally. I know the scale of The Guardian and I was familiar of Chris’ work, but I wondered if I could muster the energy to leave the house for yet one more meeting that week. He contacted me before I had a chance to reach out to him and asked about getting together to talk over the weekend. We decided to meet for coffee on a Saturday morning.

I did my typical, got up and had coffee at home. Got on the computer and got lost. Before I knew it, it was past time to go see him and I hadn’t even showered. I threw on a headband and clothes, half washed my face, put on some moisturizer and deodorant and raced to Binghamton. On my way there, I attempted to text him to let him know I was running late and realized I failed to pay my cell phone bill and my phone was shut off. I almost turned around and went home.

Here I was, leaving the house when I didn’t want to, a phone not working because I didn’t pay the bill, unshowered – all evidence of the depression I had sunk into heading to meet a nationally known writer to talk about a topic that I am passionate about and yet, adds to my sadness.

I hoped as I always do, that we would be talking about Truth Pharm. Talking about the problem at large. Talking about the thousands lost, the millions struggling.

I got there and found him quickly. I was beyond ‘fashionably late’ and he was immediately forgiving. He appeared to be as far behind in showering as I was and I settled down.

He immediately started his interview – all about my personal life. Right from the beginning of my life and I felt uneasy. Why about me? I even asked him. I have so little to do with this. But, he was so genuine, I got the impression that he is like me, he simply loves to know every element of a person – and their entire life’s story. So, there I sat, telling him my story from the time of being a child to the point of losing my own child. He took a few notes. He picked up on my depression and asked about it. He loved that I was an engineer said I should get back to building bridges. A couple hours later, he said he was going for a walk and I was heading home. All the way home, I wished I had stayed. There was just something about him. I could have hung out with him for days, I’m certain.

As I waited the weeks following for his story to come out, I became increasingly anxious. We talked about so much over the course of those two hours, I wondered in the end, what the story would be about. We stayed in contact via twitter and when the story came out, he asked, “Was I fair?” Yes, Chris,  you were fair. Thank you.

Read Penny’s and my story here in Chris’ article.

I am honored to be in a story alongside Penny Stringfield and honored our boys, Jeff Dugon and Johny Stringfield share their stories on a page.

Alexis Pleus by Chris Arnade

Photos by Chris Arnade.

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