Day 186 - Mostyn (1st person I approached)
July 05, 2014 - Mostyn was sitting outside reading a collection of short stories by EM Forster. I approached her as I normally do and started to explain why I was hoping to chat with her.
“Please, it’s fine," she said.
"There’s no need to be so sincere. Sit down, let’s chat.” She didn’t want to see my website, or any ‘proof’ of what I’m doing. I told Mostyn I’d want to take her photograph thinking that might be the deal breaker. “Ok, that’s fine,” she said as she moved her grocery bags so that I could sit down. 'Mostyn' is a Welsh place name, meaning ‘moss town’ in Old English. (pronounced moss-tin).
Born in Montreal, Mostyn is the middle child of three.
“I have one brother who is six years older than I, and another brother who is five years younger than I am. My father was a war child from England, as was my mother. He then became an officer in the military. Being female and not the eldest in the family allowed me to escape much of his strict ideals. My oldest brother bore most of that,” said Mostyn.
“We weren’t a close family. My father was emotionally unavailable, and my mother wasn’t the most stable of people. She was charming and talented and beautiful. She was also uncertain of herself and was diagnosed as suffering from depression early on. Then she would have days of being heavily medicated, that would see the highs high and the lows low,” she said.
At the age of five, Mostyn’s family moved to San Francisco, California, where she went to a private school for a couple of years.
“Then I went to live with an aunt and uncle in Switzerland for some time. I was there for about a year before joining my family in New York. We lived in New Jersey. I would spend weekends in New York with an aunt who worked in theatre. She had an apartment in Greenwich Village, near Washington Square. It was 1968 and everyone was bare foot and reading poetry,” said Mostyn.
“We always seemed to live in areas that were close to nature. I spent a lot of my time in my own world, with my head in a book, or day-dreaming as I wondered through a forest somewhere. The only real rule I had was to be home for dinner,” she said.
When she was about twelve years old, Mostyn, her mother and brothers moved to White Rock, British Columbia (BC), leaving her father behind in New York.
“My parents spent twenty years together. I know that they really cared for one another and depended upon each other, but it wasn't so good. When we moved, there was nothing much in White Rock at that time. It was all forest and nature, and water of course. I walked everywhere and would often skip school and spend the day on the beach reading and writing poetry,” she said.
“And even though I was only thirteen, I would on occasion also have a bottle of wine with me. Being an outsider allowed me to have a wider perspective. I was always more comfortable with people that were older than I was. I found people my own age to be silly. I became good friends with my art teacher. We’d go to her house after school and she’d make me dinner, we’d talk about art and then smoke some pot together. I was never into smoking pot as a regular thing but I enjoyed it socially from time to time,” she said. It started to rain and neither of us had an umbrella. We decided we’d stay seated outside and continue chatting regardless.
Mostyn left home at fourteen and lived with friends for a few years.
“I was rather precocious and I dropped out of school. I met a Psychologist who taught at Douglas College and I’d go and sit in on his classes. I found it fascinating,” she said. “I worked for a while and eventually made my way to England,” said Mostyn. While living in Ealing, London, she met a man.
“It was like we were married, without actually getting married. We connected spiritually. He came from aristocracy and that meant I didn’t have to work,” she told me.
“He went on to become an academic. Most of the men I had relationships with became academics. Or monks,” she said with a laugh and a sense of irony.
At this point we moved our conversation into the doorway of a nearby store as it was raining quite heavily by this time. Mostyn told me she went to the University of Manchester for a time and studied Philosophy and Psychology.
“I was in England for six years before moving back to Vancouver. I went to the University of British Columbia (UBC) and took courses in English and French," said Mostyn.
“And I guess it was somewhat comical, but I also studied education, even though I hadn’t completed high school myself. I had a child, a son and I thought I might like to become a teacher.” She then told me, with a big grin, that her son was conceived while she was at a Buddhist meditation retreat. I joked that I guess no words were exchanged, to which she replied, laughing and wagging a finger at me
“You clearly are an imaginative writer!” Mostyn has been learning about Buddhism for many years and continues that exploration still.
While she is officially ‘retired’ now, Mostyn has a part-time job working in a secondhand book store.
“I like to keep busy and I love books. I find too that I spend more and more of my time with younger people now. When I was young I enjoyed the company of older people. I find that people my age are too concerned with the fruitless, relentless quest for ‘normalcy’ and I’m not interested in that. Things have changed completely. One of my best friends is in her early twenties. There’s an openness that is refreshing. I can relate to her better than people my own age.” #notastranger