Day 95 - Alex (1st person I approached)
April 05, 2014 - Alex gave me the “I don’t really have anything to talk about" line and we know how that one goes.
Alex was born at St Paul’s Hospital, in downtown Vancouver. She grew up and still lives in the Fairview area of Vancouver.
“I went to one elementary school, and then I went to the same high school my parents went to. I did that on purpose,” she told me.
I asked if that was against the catchment area regulations wherein you have to live within a certain distance from a school to be allowed to attend it. Alex told me,
“It was the last year that you could have cross boundary schools. Otherwise I would have had to lie. I wanted to go to that school. And not just because it was better. My parents and I have our pictures up on the wall of the same school,” Alex said, smiling with pride.
Her parents did not start dating while at that school. They knew each other, but are not high school sweethearts. Alex has one older bother.
“Yeah, we get along. We live together. We weren’t always close, but as you get older the age gap seems to get smaller. He’s my best friend,” she says, looking at her brother who has joined us at the table where we are seated.
Alex, her brother Briton and her boyfriend all share a home together.
After school, Alex went to Blanche MacDonald, a modelling and make-up artistry school.
“I did the course, but I didn’t really pursue it, and it didn’t do anything to further my career. I’m a server. It’s what I’ve done for years, and I’m good at it. I make really good money where I’m working now and I like my job,” Alex said.
I asked Alex if she about her hobbies and interests.
“Well, I used to be a graffiti writer. It started when I was in high school. For about five years, I was really into break dancing, and hip-hop music. And it all just went together,” Alex says.
“I never really painted or drew in school. So it took some time and practise. You know, paint’s not cheap and back in the day, you didn’t get all the different colours you can today. So we used to use half empty cans of spray paint and mix them to make other colours.”
I asked her what the most daring or risky piece she had created was, and Alex told me that she was a close friend with Lee Matasi, (*Fact Check - see links below) a well-known local skateboarder and artist, who was murdered in 2005 outside a Vancouver night club.
“We had been out together that night, and I left and 30 minutes later got a call to say he had passed away,” Alex told me.
There were a lot of tributes after Lee’s death, and gatherings at the now renowned Leeside Skate Park, that Lee had created in his youth.
“I went downtown, to Davie Street, and there was a billboard there. I think the billboard is still up, but the piece I did isn’t there any longer. I climbed up onto a building and then onto the billboard and I did a piece there, with Lee’s name as a tribute and to remember him. He was such a peaceful guy, and didn’t believe in fighting or aggression. It was a really difficult time, dealing with his death.”
Together with some other artists, Alex formed a collective of female graffiti writers, to encourage and foster creativity, while building community.
“There's a website, but I haven’t posted anything there in a while,” she says, telling me they are called Team Heartbreak.
Alex is expecting her first child in about three weeks. She tells me that compared to some women she knows, it’s been a good pregnancy.
"I’m excited and nervous about it too,” she says. Her and the father know they are expecting a boy. Alex goes on to tell me,
“We wanted to know what lay ahead, what to expect and what to prepare for. We have a few names picked out, but we’re not going to make a final decision until we meet him. What if we pick out a name and realize it so doesn’t suit him?!”
When we started talking, I asked Alex what it felt like to have lived all her life in the same area, and in the same town, and did she feel connected to her community. She said,
”Well I lived in Montreal for a while, and that was great, but of course, I’m back here now. I’m not really sure how much longer I’ll be here though. I mean, I’d like to think that one day I could buy a place for this new family we're starting, but here in Vancouver, you’ve got to ask yourself, ‘Is that just a fantasy?’ I’d like to live somewhere like one of the Islands, Gabriola or Vancouver Island maybe. But I do feel a part of my community for sure. I can see though how if you were new to Vancouver, it might be different. People can be hard to get to know.”
I mention to Alex that I love all the public art that Montreal has, in particular the illuminations and artwork that is projected on tall buildings all over the downtown area.
“Yes! That’s another thing. Everything in this city is so grey and concrete or white. This city definitely needs more colour!” #notastranger
*Fact Check - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Matasi
*Fact Check - http://leematasi.threethousand.org
*Fact Check - http://teamheartbreakkickrocks.tumblr.com