Day 312 - Matts (3rd person I approached)
November 08, 2014 - The first person I approached immediately threw her hand over her purse which was on the table in front of her. That made me chuckle, knowing who I am, and made me sad that she felt a need to protect herself. We were in a very public space and there were others around. I guess it’s somewhat indicative of how we feel a need to be guarded where strangers are concerned.
Matts was walking ahead of me when I saw him and I had to speed walk to catch up with him. I explained what I’m doing, and asked if he would chat with me. He said yes and we went and sat down to chat.
“My name is Norwegian. And yes, I do have to spell it for everyone. It’s happened all my life, I’m used to it,” he told me.
“I was born in New Westminster (British Columbia - BC), and grew up in Langley,” he said. Matts has an older sister and brother, and one younger sister.
“We fought like most kids do, but we’re definitely close now. I was sort of what you’d call a bit of a badass kid in elementary school. Or at least I hung around with some of the badass kids. My father tried to help me understand the possible consequences, but at the time I didn’t know what he meant. I remember I was making friends with another kid from school, and it turns out his parents had ‘heard’ of me. This one parent wasn’t very nice to me. My Dad had told me about getting associated with the wrong kids, and that was happening. Going from grade six to seven, I switched-up the makeup of my friends group, and did it again a bit later as well, which put me on a better track,” said Matts. He was eating what looked to be a really healthy sandwich.
“I played a lot of sports in school. Football mainly, but I also played soccer and hockey. I wasn’t so good at hockey, I was okay with the puck, but couldn’t score. I quit playing hockey and soccer and played football throughout school. I still do,” he said.
“I was good at maths in school as well. I took a test that would put me in an advanced math class. They wouldn’t let me in the class, saying that I didn’t do well enough in the test. My mother went down to the school and insisted I be put in the advanced class,” he told me, laughing.
“I got into the class and advanced a year in math.”
Matts wasn't interested in going to college or university after graduating from high-school.
“I wanted to go to Whistler and be on the mountain. My sister had just gotten married and lived there. I moved in with her and her husband. I got a job on the mountain so I didn’t have to pay for a ski pass. My brother-in-law got me some work in construction as well. Between the two jobs I didn’t actually get much time to ski, but it was good to be there. After about six months, I realized I was kind of homesick, and missed my friends. I would take the bus back to Langley and see them, but I wanted to go back to live there. I moved back to my parents place and got a job. I was working for a garbage company for a while. Then I did a few other jobs, nothing toward a career or anything, just jobs to fill the time and make some money,” he said.
“I started working in construction again,” Matts told me.
“I met a girl at a party, through a friend of a friend. We hit it off, she was smart and funny. She was going to Queen’s University (Ontario). We kept in touch. It was kind of like a long distance relationship, but based in friendship. After about a year, I went out to visit with her, and saw what university life was like. It was then that I realized I wished I had gone to school. There were five parties just in that one week I was there!” he said, half joking.
"Nothing happened between her and I, we were still just friends. She had asked me if I would be into travelling later, that she had planned to travel once she was finished university. It wasn’t in the cards for me, and I told her I had no plans to travel. I came back to BC and continued working,” he said.
“I went back to school. I took a carpentry course at BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology) that lasted for six months. It was an apprenticeship course, so I also need to accrue a certain amount of hours on job sites to complete the course,” he said.
“My friend graduated from Queen’s University and came back to BC. She asked me about travelling again. I had been giving it some thought, and told her I wanted to travel with her. We went to Scotland and lived in Edinburgh for nine months. We had two-year visas, that they give to people under the age of twenty five. You can work for one year and travel for two. We got jobs as servers in Edinburgh and just hung out there for nine months. Then we went over to Europe and travelled around. I even met a distant relative in Norway and she took us in for a week, and showed us around Oslo. We were away for just over a year,” he said. They had made it through the long distance relationship, and now through travelling together.
Matts completed his apprenticeship once back in BC.
“We took another trip for four months in South America, and then came home again. Our next trip was to Central America, and I proposed when we were there. We already knew that we were going to spend the rest of our lives together, we didn’t need to get married for that. The time just seemed right. We had been together for ten years when we got married,” he told me.
They had a destination wedding.
“We got married in Mexico, and with all of our travelling we had made friends with people from all over the world. We had fifty people at our wedding, everyone travelling to Mexico for it,” he said. That was earlier this year. He was just getting to the end of his sandwich. He had been playing football with his brother earlier in the day, and was obviously refuelling.
I told Matts that I was grateful for him sharing his story with me. I took his photograph. It was one of the easiest stories to listen to. It kind of just flowed in conversation with Matts. I didn’t even ask him that many questions. I commented that I thought it sounded like a fulfilling and enriched life that he had crafted for himself, and his wife.
“It’s turned out pretty good.” #notastranger