Day 268 - Marli (4th person I approached)
September 25, 2014 - Today had a bonus adventure included with going out and meeting a stranger. A lovely woman named Jen from Shaw TV Vancouver asked if she could join me, and film a segment about The Stranger Project 2014 for Go! Vancouver, a local magazine program (to air in October; I’ll post more info). It seems that people become less willing to talk when being filmed with a video camera. So I was pleasantly surprised when Marli, who was the fourth person I approached, agreed to chat, albeit a bit shyly. She was sitting on a bench under a tree, on the seawall in Coal Harbour. The idyllic view overlooked the water, Stanley Park and the north shore mountains. We were soon chatting like old friends, oblivious to the camera filming our conversation.
Born in Peterborough, Ontario, Marli grew up in Oshawa, which is about forty-five minutes east of Toronto.
“I’m the middle child. No. No I'm not, see I'm nervous and making up the story here. I’m the youngest of three. I have an older brother and sister. I think we were typical of all siblings, fight in childhood, get along as adults,” she told me.
“Does anyone really ever like school? I didn’t. I liked all the fun things, Drama, Music, Art. I was bullied in school, so it certainly wasn't always fun. I was different. I weighed a little bit more. I was gay. I mean, I was picked on and bullied for all the typical things that kids bully other kids for. The usual mean kid stuff. But it made for a difficult time,” said Marli.
After graduating from high-school, Marli decided she wanted to travel.
“I drove across Canada to the west coast and fell in love with Vancouver,” she said. “I mean look at it, what’s not to love?” as she gestured towards the north shore mountains.
“I’ve never been to the east coast. I’ve not ever gone much further east than Oshawa. I just keep getting drawn back to the west coast, and Vancouver. This is my fourth or fifth time here.”
Marli eventually made her way back to Oshawa and decided to go back to school.
"I went to Durham College and studied PR (Public Relations). The course was three years long. When I went into it, I figured it would be something I would like to do, but by the end of the course, I knew it wasn’t for me. But, it was such a broad program and I learned so much. About myself and about communication and photography. So many things that I use in my life. It wasn’t a complete waste of time,” she said, wholeheartedly.
“I had been living at home while going to college - it’s cheaper! And I worked three jobs to save money and get by. I worked hard that three years, and managed to save some money,” she said. Through social media, Marli met a woman that had taken the same course at Durham College a few years before Marli had.
“We became good friends and she contacted me one day and offered me a job. She was working for Celebrity Cruises, and I got a job working as a Front Desk Attendant. Like being in a hotel, but at sea. It was amazing, I got to see some great places and I was getting paid to travel,” said Marli.
“I’ve spent most of my time traveling. I’ve been to forty-five countries so far. I’ve just come back from a year in Australia. I had done some work with Contiki Tours. They were kind enough to let me pick up a few tours in Australia, so I could make some money as I travelled. That was probably my toughest trip. It was the first time I had travelled that far, by myself. When you travel alone, you have to make all the decisions, yourself. I had to find my way around and figure things out. It was tough and liberating at the same time,” she said.
“South America is one of my highlights. But that changes all the time as well. If you’d asked me a couple of years ago, the answer would have been different. But I loved the people in South America, the culture and the natural beauty,” she said.
I asked Marli what was next for her.
“That’s a really great question. One that I ask myself every day. I just came out to Vancouver to visit with some friends and I’m heading to airport in about fifteen minutes to go to Alberta. Someone had asked when I was in Australia how I liked Montreal, because they had wanted to go there. I had never been, so I did spend few days there recently, and I was amazed. I’ve spent so much time traveling all around the world. I think for my next big trip, I’m going to explore Canada. There is so much beauty and such diversity to see right here in our own country. I want to learn more about my home,” said Marli.
“I’m not in a relationship, in part, because it’s hard to find someone that wants to travel the same way I do. That has the means and the time. I work hard and live frugally to make it happen,” she says with a shrug of her shoulders.
“Traveling has definitely helped me to become more outgoing and open. I've learned to communicate better - you have to when you’re traveling. So many people wait until they’ve retired to travel. I don’t want to do that. I think if you wait, you potentially limit yourself. You’re less likely to travel to say, Egypt or India, or places that might be more challenging to visit. Everyone should travel though. I think travel is vital.” #notastranger