February 25, 2015 - AN UPDATE - Frans
One year, one week and one day ago, I first met Frans. It was back on Day 48 of The Stranger Project. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to talk with me for the project itself, but he was intrigued enough to insist we go for coffee (he also insisted he pay). We spent over an hour talking that day. Of course, by the end of our chat, he relented and gave me the okay to share his story. (*Fact Check - see links below.)
We’ve kept in touch and have become friends. Frans was one of several ‘#notastranger's’ who came along to hear my talk at TEDxRCW last October. I got a message from him this past weekend, saying it had been too long since we’d chatted. He invited me to meet him for lunch today.
We talked for over two hours. All about education systems around the world, some politics, and maybe a bit about my project. We also chatted about his three children and good food. (I highly recommend ‘Fable’ on West 4th Avenue - I had the grilled cheese and pulled pork sandwich, with homemade tomato soup - comfort food heaven!) Frans was telling me about a French restaurant that he goes to with his wife and three daughters. Two of his children are in a French emersion elementary school, and the children get a kick out of chatting in French with the wait staff.
As I headed home, it struck me that people around us in the restaurant might have guessed we’d been life-long friends. The time flew by, with lots of laughter and lively conversation. Yet, just over a year ago, Frans was as a complete stranger, who I approached and, asked him to have a conversation with me. It was a wonderful afternoon. He not only paid for lunch, Frans also gave a donation for the funding of the documentary ‘Not A Stranger.’ He told me, “I was in Indonesia when the Indiegogo campaign ran, and I really wanted to make a donation. Can I still give you some money?” he asked. How could I say no to my friend?
I walked home from lunch, in part to ease the feeling of gluttony that was lunch, but mostly because I enjoy walking. I turned onto Cambie Street, and I ran into Don, who I had originally met on Day 165, back in June of last year. On December 17th, (Day 351) I wrote about an emotional encounter that I had with Don. I had bumped into him just moments after he found out that his brother had passed away, in Edmonton. I was the first person he told. Don was grief stricken and didn’t know for sure what he was going to do. His first reaction was a want to go get drunk. Don is an alcoholic. We sat and talked for a while that day. Eventually he decided to go see a friend of his who works at a nearby church. She would be his comfort.
Today was the first time I’ve seen Don since his brother died. I asked how he was, and he replied “I’m alive.” I was happy to hear that he had just gotten back from Edmonton, after heading there and spending a month with his sister and her family.
“It didn’t offer me any closure. Not really. My brother’s still dead. But I was glad to have time with my family,” he told me.
“It’s nice to see you,” said Don.
“Thanks for asking how I am.” A day of friends, checks and balances. #notastranger #notastranger