Day 242 - Danielle (2nd person I approached)
August 30, 2014 - Danielle was sitting by herself in a crowded deli when I approached her. I explained what I’m doing and asked her if we could chat. She said yes, even though she told me that she hated having her picture taken. I made she sure she was going to let me take her picture. In a very quiet, soft-spoken voice that belied the visual persona she presents, she said yes.
Danielle was born in Toronto, Ontario. She is the oldest of four children, three girls and one boy.
“I’m the black sheep of the family. I know it’s usually the youngest or one of the middle kids, but in my case, it was me. My sister who is just younger than me, she’s the responsible one. She’s the one who looked after all of us. Our parents weren’t there for us much,” said Danielle.
“We were close as kids. We had to be. We were there for each other. My parents didn’t want to have children, even though they had four of us. Their lifestyle had changed just before I was born,” she said.
“My parents were both poor growing up. They came into money and everything changed. My grandparents had won a lottery. They gave money to my parents and their lives took a one hundred and eighty degree turn. They were just into having a good time.”
In school, Danielle was bullied.
“I got picked on all the time. I was rather quiet and shy. I got teased because of my hair. I got teased for everything. School was not fun,” she said. At seventeen, her father kicked her out of the house.
“I categorized myself as a lesbian. I had always said I was. My father is a strict Italian and he wasn’t having anything to do with me,” she said.
Danielle went to university right after high school.
“I studied Psychology at the University of Toronto. My parents didn’t help me, I had to pay for my own education. After three years I got a job offer and left school,” said Danielle. She started working for a large national bank, becoming a fraud investigator.
“I came to Vancouver a couple of times with work. The first time I came here in 2009, I fell in love with the city. It’s so beautiful here. I told my friends that one day I would live here.”
When she was eighteen, Danielle got into her first serious relationship.
“I had dated a few women but this was my first real, long term relationship. My girlfriend is from Vancouver. We had talked about moving here together. We had been together for six years, and things between us became quite toxic. In 2012 I got into a bad car accident and that was pretty much the end of the relationship. I had some pretty bad burns and couldn’t really take care of myself. My parents let me go home while I got better. My sister, the responsible one, was living in Chicago, but she took a month off and came to Toronto and looked after me,” said Danielle.
Because of the accident, Danielle has not been able to return to work.
“My (now) ex-girlfriend moved out here to Vancouver. We have a dog together and the dog was pretty sick. I was trying to contact her to make arrangements for her to see the dog. She refuses to talk with me. In March of this year, I drove out here, so my ex-girlfriend could see our dog. The vet didn’t think the dog was going to make it much longer and I wanted them to see each other. I had to make arrangements with a friend of her’s to organize for her to spend time the dog. She's still not talking to me,” said Danielle.
While here in Vancouver, Danielle had made arrangements for a place to stay.
“I was going to be here for a month, so I used the online ‘CouchSurfing’ website. (A site where people advertise availability in their homes for casual, short-term paying guests.) Things got a little crazy. I spent some time with the guy whose house I was staying at. We hit it off. I fell in love with him. It was biggest, most unexpected surprise. I certainly wasn’t looking for anything, and I had no plans of falling for a guy,” said Danielle.
“But we’re madly in love with each other. I’ve never met anyone who cares about me as much as he does. He takes such good care of me. I don't classify things by gender. It's the person I'm in love with.” After spending the month of March with her new boyfriend, Danielle went back to Toronto as originally planned.
“I moved out here to Vancouver last month, and we're getting a place together,” she says, with a big, wide smile.
Danielle hopes to be able to get a job and go back to work soon.
“I’m really happy that I’m finally living here in Vancouver,” she told me. I asked what she hoped for in the future.
“I don’t care about money, or being rich. I just want to be happy. And have a family. And raise them.” #notastranger