Day 188 - Sarah

Day 188 - Sarah (1st person I approached)
July 07, 2014 - Sarah was sitting on a park bench at the side of the road. She had a large duffle bag, a couple of smaller plastic shopping bags and what I thought might have been a violin, but later found out was a mandolin, in a case. She looked like she might have been waiting for a bus, although she was nowhere near a bus stop. 


Sarah was born in Toronto, Ontario (or Un-terrible as she called it, with a great gust of laughter) and grew up in Etobicoke.

“I have one younger brother who is about four and a half years younger than I am. We weren’t that close as kids, because of the age difference. But as he’s gotten older, I started to find him more interesting. He just graduated from high school and had his prom. I called him to congratulate him,” she said, with genuine affection and pride in her voice. Sarah had a friend who played the violin when she was a young girl and Sarah told her mother she "wanted to be just like her." Her mother suggested she start off learning to play piano, and if she stuck with that, she could maybe then move on to the violin. 

“I did piano lessons until about high school. So not getting a violin was probably a good idea, it's a fairly big investment,” she said. 


In school Sarah was driven by a need and desire to make her parents happy.

“I worked hard, I studied hard and I wanted to make my parents proud of me. They would remind me from time to time that my little brother really looked up to me, so I had that as well, the responsibility. But I just wanted to do the very best I could for them.” 


In Grade eleven, Sarah went on an exchange trip with her school and spent a semester going to school in Singapore.

“I didn’t have much of a notion of what it meant to be Canadian. That trip really opened my eyes. I came back from this amazing trip and was filled with gratitude that this is where I’m from and knowing that Canada is where I want to grow old. It was an incredible experience,” she said. After completing high-school, Sarah continued on her quest to better herself.

“I did lots of research to get into the best university, and the best program. I researched which grads went on to make the most money and have the best prospects. I took Business at Queens University in Kingston (Ontario)."


Sarah had been sitting on the bench waiting for her boyfriend Leif. He arrived and Sarah explained what we were chatting about. Leif didn’t mind waiting a bit while we continued chatting, and even added a couple of interesting tidbits to the conversation. They’ve been going out for three years and met through mutual friends when Sarah was in Kingston going to university. Leif told me Sarah’s family was

“Like a sit-com. They’re the perfect nuclear family and her parents are two of the funniest people I’ve ever met,” he said. I asked Sarah if her parents had given ‘Leif approval.’ She immediately replied

“Oh yeah. They get along well and he makes me happy. That’s all they care about.” They have a very nice, comfortable energy going on between them. 


Sarah has completed all her course work for her degree but hasn’t quite finished everything she needs to do yet.

“I plan to have it all done by September of this year. That’s kind of what my parents had hoped I’d do and I want to get it done. I realized about a year into the Business program that I wasn't like the people that I thought I would be; my peers in university. What I mean is I didn’t want the same things they do. So having finished most of my classes for my degree, Leif and I decided to move to BC (British Columbia) last year. We went tree planting near Prince George last May, and did that for three months. Then we came to Vancouver and got an apartment here,” she said. The tree planting was an enjoyable experience but “very hard work,” they both said.

“You're surrounded by unique people who really just want to be outdoors all day long. People come from all over Canada to plant trees. And there are some hardcore planters too, let me tell you!” said Sarah. 


She tells me that they had gone back to plant trees again this past May, but they didn’t make it through the season. She and Leif look at one another and smile.

“It’s really hard for us to work together in that kind of situation. You don’t really do anything much but plant trees. We kind of irritated each other last year. So this year we decided to not work together. We went to separate camps. There wasn’t an internet connection so we couldn’t even communicate,” said Sarah.

“Life’s too short to be doing that kind of hard work if you’re not enjoying it. So we came home to Vancouver,” she said.


They literally just got back into town three days ago. All of their belongings are in a storage locker and they’re currently staying with friends, while they figure out what they will do next.

“I’m taking a couple of distance courses through Athabasca University. I think they saw me coming. You can sign up for a course that might take three months and if you want an extra three months to complete it, no problem. You just buy another three months of time! I’m taking two classes more for recreational interest. I’m doing one in Pop Culture and another class in Media. It’s interesting because while studying Business, you learn about the tools you have to manipulate things, to get what you want from people. And now I’m looking at the flip side, about how the media can influence consumers and how to avoid that. I’m definitely going to complete my degree for September. Other than that, I’m kind of, for the first time not sure what I’m going to do. I’m confident enough in myself that I know things will work out. After four years of intense studies at university, I’m ok just sitting back and being unsure about what’s next. It feels good,” she told me.


Leif had given Sarah the mandolin. She had said that she wanted to learn to play one for a long time, and Leif is a musician, so his intention was to help her learn to play it.

“Well Leif giving me lessons turns out isn’t such a good idea. I’m not going to pay attention when he asks me if I’ve done my practise for the day. So I’m just playing with it for now.” she says, smiling at Leif. I asked Sarah why they had chosen to live in Vancouver, to which Leif replied

"I don't like the cold and winter. I’d rather have rain than the cold.” Sarah said she likes Vancouver

"because in Toronto, I feel like you have to travel two hours outside of the city to feel like you’re out in nature. Here you just step outside the door and you’re surrounded by nature, everywhere.” #notastranger