May 18, 2015 Adam (an update)
in the seventeen months that I’ve been chatting with, and writing about, strangers, I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned about different cities, cultures, folklore, languages, history. So much information. I often come home and research things I’ve spoken with strangers about; I like to know what it is I’m writing about.
I’ve learned a great deal about people, humanity, emotions and sometimes, just how cruel life can seem. I’ve heard stories about great feats of personal determination, strength and resilience. I’ve gotten to know myself better. The way I react to certain situations has changed, for the better. How I perceive the environment around me, and my response to others. The immeasurable value to my personal wellness by connecting with people, and being engaged within my community. Some stories have stayed with me for days, others for months. Some will guide me for the rest of my life. I’m blessed, grateful, and humbled ever single day.
I’ve also made some really good friends through talking to strangers. People who truly become #notastranger. Adam is one such friend. I met Adam last year, on Day 269, September 26, 2014 (see link in comments below). He was extremely easy to chat with and the conversation flowed.
We became friends on Facebook, and kept in touch. When I gave my talk at TEDxRenfrewCollingwood, I invited a few of the ‘strangers’ that I had met to come along for the day. Adam was in the audience.
The next time we got together, we went floating together (different rooms and tanks, same time and location!). Our plan was to go for breakfast after the float. We met a couple of documentary filmmakers at Float House, and they ended up joining us for breakfast. I liked Adam’s ease and comfort with unexpected new friends and his ability to just go with the flow.
We keep in touch, and even though Adam works out of town four days a week, we often grab coffee together and catch-up. Adam is a dentist, and has never had a cavity. I have to say, it’s mildly annoying that he has such a perfect smile and flawless white teeth. I guess we all have our flaws. I have Scottish heritage, and a filling in almost every tooth. Enough said.
Today we made plans to meet at a coffee shop in Gastown, but with it being a holiday, it was closed. We went somewhere nearby, and got our coffees to go. Being such a lovely day, we went for a walk to CRAB Park, at the Port of Vancouver, on the downtown Eastside waterfront. (I learned from Adam today that it’s an acronym, though usually just called Crab Park - C.R.A.B. - Create a Real Available Beach).
Like any friendship, there’s always another story to be told or a past adventure to share. Since moving out on his own at eighteen, Adam has never owned a television. I couldn't imagine that; TV is my white noise. As we walked along the road bordered on one side by the rows of cargo trains, the topic of graffiti came up. There was a bunch of railcars that had illegible tags spray-painted on them. One legible and highly stylized piece was an artist's name, or ‘tag’ as they’re called. Adam smiled and told me he had gone to high school in Kamloops with the artist. We shared our own views on graffiti and tagging. It’s sometimes a fine line.
I was somehow reminded of the romantic notion of travelling across country by hoping on and off trains. It seems it was a way of life in the early to middle parts of the last century, but not something that you hear much about these days.
“I did that once,” Adam told me. I asked for clarification.
“A bunch of my friends were artists, and that’s how they got around. There’s often an extra engine car in the middle of a long train. And they’d hope on and ride it to their destination. A few of them were coming down to Vancouver, and I got invited, so I went along. I was about eighteen or nineteen at the time,” he said.
"We hopped on the empty engine of this train, and rode from Kamloops to Vancouver." I loved the adventurous nature of the trip.
I asked Adam if his parents ever knew he had done that.
“Yeah,” he said, laughing.
“My father actually drove me to the train station. He didn’t know exactly what I was doing. But eventually I told him. We still laugh about that to this day!”
We walked through the park, towards the little manmade beach, stopping a few times to enjoy the view and chat. After an hour, and neither of us wearing sunscreen (I know, I know), we decided it was time to get out of the sun. There’s a price to pay for embracing male pattern baldness. I walked with Adam back to his place. He was going get his stuff ready for his week of work out of town.
We said our goodbyes, and as I walked home, I thought about how fortunate I am. I randomly approached someone and asked them to chat with me, and from that, we’ve become good friends. In a text conversation we had last week, Adam reminded me that I could tell him anything. That’s all he needed to say. I know this to be true, and consider myself lucky to have another person in my life that will listen, openly and without judgement, no matter what I want to talk about.
When I got home, I sent Adam a message. I thanked him for paying for the coffee (he IS a dentist after all). I also let him know that no matter what or when, I’ll always be here for him. To listen. Anytime. That to me is the basis and foundation of a real and true friendship, and indicates to me, that Adam is truly, #notastranger.