Day 302 - Ross (6th person I approached)
October 29, 2014 - As soon as I made eye contact with the first person I approached, I thought she looked familiar. I realized I had already spoken with Linda back on Day 50 (I had to look that up to remember the exact day). Nonetheless, we chatted a bit and it was lovely to see her again. The second person was a gentleman who told me he was just waiting for his wife. He gestured to a woman about twenty feet away, speaking with someone.
“I’ve been out with her all day. Waiting,” he said. The third person was also waiting for his wife; they were going to go to the gym. I recognized the fourth person I approached as someone that I had asked once before, and he prefers to be private.
The next young man told me his life was “far too complicated. I don’t want to go through all of that with you. Trust me, you don’t want me to go through it all with you either!”
I saw Ross sitting alone in a small park. He looked like he was waiting for someone. I told him about my project and asked if he’d chat with me. He told me he was in fact waiting to meet someone, but had about ten minutes, and said we could chat while he was waiting.
Ross was born in Canterbury, the centuries old city, in South East England.
“I was born there, and grew up in Whitstable (about five miles north of Canterbury),” he told me. Ross is the third of four boys.
“The oldest is six years older than me, and the youngest is nine years younger. My Mum took bit of a break I guess. She loved having four boys. I tried in influence my younger brother to carry the best traits of his older brothers. If he was too much like the oldest, he would spend too much time at school. My oldest brother is a Doctor in physics now. My next brother is a creative writer. If my younger brother was too much like me, he’d spend his life traveling. I hoped he’d become a balanced version of all our best parts. We were as close as four brothers can be growing up,” said Ross.
“I was an all rounder at school. I wasn’t ever that good at anything, and I didn’t strive to be the best, but I always wanted to be capable. If I was going to do something, like play a sport, I didn’t have to be the best at it, but I wanted to at least be able to play it. I was like that in sports and my studies,” he said. Ross started playing drums when he was sixteen.
“My oldest brother went away to university, and he left his drums in the garage. I would go in there and play, most likely annoying the neighbours. My mates would come over and we’d jam,” he said.
Ross got his GCSE’s (General Certificate of Secondary Education), at sixteen. He planned to stay on to get his ‘A’ levels (General Certificate of Education, Advanced) in preparation for university.
“I got one year into studying for my ‘A’ levels and realized that I just didn’t want to go to school anymore. I dropped out when I was seventeen. I’m the only one of the four of us who didn’t go to university,” he said. We talked about going to university right after secondary school, versus getting actual life experience and perhaps going to school later in life.
“My father is a carpenter, and has had the same job since he was sixteen. He has a more practical approach to things. My mother always encouraged me to do what I wanted to do,” said Ross. His mother used to be a children’s playgroup owner, and now works with children with special needs.
“Instead of going to school, I worked in a grocer’s to save money so I could go traveling,” he told me. Ross went to Australia, stopping in Thailand on the way.
“I went with a friend who lost all his money gambling. He went back home shortly after we got to Australia,” he said. Ross wasn't going to go home just because his mate did.
“I went back to Thailand on the way home for a bit too. Then I went back to Whitstable, to my parents and got a job. I was working to save money, to go off again,” said Ross. His travels took him to New Zealand, Gibraltar and then Europe for two months.
“I’ve spent the last nine years traveling. I couldn’t tell you about it all in chronological order. I went anywhere that I could get a longer term visa for. I was in Central America and thought I might as well come to Canada,” said Ross.
“I have an aunt who is Canadian. I’ve been here before, but that was in Calgary. I applied for a one year visa to come to Vancouver. I have two mates that are long time friends, and they’re here as well,” he said. Ross has been in Vancouver for just four months.
“I’m working in construction. I’ve always had terrible jobs, it’s just to make some money,” he said. He then gave it some thought.
“No, not all the jobs have been terrible. I’ve had a couple decent ones,” said Ross.
I asked him how he felt looking back at the last nine years and all the travelling he has done.
“It’s been good. There are pro’s and con’s to it. The pro’s of traveling mean I get to see the world, and have the lifelong memories. Some of the cons are things like I have no long term career aspects. There’s also a difficulty establishing long term friendships and building a community around myself. Although I do already have that more than some might,” said Ross.
“I have to go check if this is the guy I’m supposed to be meeting,” he said, looking past me. I turned and there was a young man and woman standing about fifteen feet from where we were sitting. I took a couple of photographs of Ross before leaving.
“I’m supposed to be meeting a guy from Craigslist,” he said. “I’m buying a guitar.” #notastranger