Day 347 - Amy (6th person I approached)
December 13, 2014 - I felt like I was on a mission today. I went out with the intention of going off the beaten track a bit, and finding today’s story. That was the sole purpose of my walk. I saw the first person I approached from across the street, and for whatever reason, I hoped he’d talk to me. He told me politely that he wasn’t into chatting for this project. But we did chat a bit. His name was Bruce and he was in his sixties. He had a great big bushy beard. He looked like a modern day sailor. Bruce told me that he appreciated me asking his permission to chat. He said that he often has people just taking his picture without asking. Which naturally, would be annoying. But he did cut quite the figure.
Another gent told me he wasn’t feeling well, and needed to get going home. He thanked me for asking him though. Then he called after me, by name, and asked if he could call me later. Told me he had some great stories to share with me about all the government conspiracies happening in the downtown core. I said perhaps we’d chat another day.
When I first saw Amy, I thought she was a lost tourist. We were both waiting at a traffic light to cross the street. She as looking at her phone and looking around, as if looking for a street sign, or perhaps to get some sense of direction. I asked if she needed some help with directions, and she smiled and told me that she lived a block away and was fine.
We started talking as we crossed the street. I mentioned that I try to always offer help to people that appear lost, or look like they are tourists. She told me she didn’t think enough people actually spoke to each other on the street and that it seemed to be some weird social awkwardness. I laughed, and explained my project to her.
Amy was heading off to meet a friend, who was going to be late, so she was going to grab a coffee while she waited. I asked if I could walk and talk with her, and take her picture, to use for my project. She was happy to chat.
I told Amy that I thought today was going to be day where I met an older gentleman with a beard. Four of the five people I had approached before her, fit that description. She asked if I wanted to continue on to find that person. Again, I laughed and said I was more than happy to chat with her. We got to the coffee shop and Amy realized that she didn’t have her wallet with her. I had no cash on me either, so it meant no morning coffee for Amy. She was still into chatting. We stood outside the coffee shop and waited for her friend.
“I was born in Edmonton, but grew up in Langley. We moved there when I was about three years old, because of my father being relocated for his work,” she said. Amy grew up with her grandparents owning a farm nearby.
“We were constantly surrounded by cows and sheep, and chickens, dogs and cats. We’d pick our own berries, and fruit in my grandparents orchard. It was great to have such wide open space as a child,” she said. Amy has one brother, with just thirteen months between them.
“In high school, there was a film production class that we were able to take. It had all the equipment and was set up in a studio. We learned about how to make TV shows, production, and editing. We’d write scripts and produced a weekly show. It was all provided by Shaw (a national cable network provider),” said Amy.
“I got involved because it was there, it wasn’t something I had thought about doing. But it did influence my post-secondary education.” Amy graduated as her class Valedictorian.
“There were two of us, so I was co-Valedictorian. The other student was a really great musician. We wrote our speech together, and delivered it together as well. It was wonderful to share that with him,” she said.
As if to calm me, Amy explained that she was listening to me, but was looking around to see if her friend that she was meeting, was approaching. I hadn't even noticed that she might seem distracted.
“I just want to make sure you don't think I’m not paying attention,” she said. Moments later her friend showed up. I had a nano-second of internal panic, and quickly switched into ‘go with it' mode.
It seemed Amy wasn’t intending to sit and have coffee with her friend, she just had to give him some keys. As they were talking, Amy looked at me and said “I feel like maybe you met me because you were supposed to meet my friend here?” He was about my age, but didn’t have a beard. I smiled and said that I was enjoying my conversation with her, and I was fine to wait if she still wanted to continue chatting.
When her friend left, she explained that she thought he would be an interesting person for The Stranger Project.
"I also really believe in serendipity. If he was the person you were meant to talk to, I didn’t want to get in the way,” she said. He did sound interesting and perhaps one day I’ll run into him again. I was meant to be chatting with Amy.
“I went to UBC (University of British Columbia) and did a double major in Film Production and Theatre. It was very intense and a lot of work!” said Amy. It was her first time moving away from home as well.
“That wasn’t really a problem for me. I’ve been travelling all of my life. We have relatives that live in Europe. I took my first trip alone when I was fourteen. I spent lots of my summers travelling. I’d go to Finland, Sweden and Germany and stay with family," she said.
"I couldn’t live on campus though. The thought of living with another person that I didn’t know, just two feet away from me didn’t appeal. I mean, I’m a night person and what if they’re not? I’m definitely not a morning person. What if they are? It was just easier for me to not live on campus,” she said, resolutely.
Amy took time off school for an exchange program through UBC.
“I went to Australia and did a semester in a school there. I liked it there so much I stayed for a while longer and just hung out. When I came home, I went back to UBC and completed my degree,” she told me.
“After I graduated, I stayed in Vancouver and worked for the next five years or so. I got work on independent films and projects, doing all kinds of things. I wrote and produced some of my own material as well. I was fortunate to be working as soon as I finished school. I travelled for work a fair bit as well, working on projects in Korea and Haiti,” she said.
“I moved to LA (Los Angles) so I could go to the AFI (American Film Institute) where I did my Master’s degree in Cinematography. I lived there for about six years. I still have a place down there and travel between here (Vancouver) and LA. I worked hard to get to where I am now, and I don’t regret it for a moment. It’s all been worth it. There was a time when I said yes to everything. I was working fourteen hour days for very little money. Once you’ve paid your transport costs and rent, it was like working for free. Then I reached a point where I just had to start saying no to things. It scared me, but that’s when it actually changed for me. Saying no to some things, made room for other things to happen, and it all worked out,” she said.
One of the projects Amy worked on recently was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
“That was exciting. TIFF is one of the more important film festivals,” said Amy, with a heap of modesty. She produced and was Director of Cinematography for the feature called “Songs She Wrote About People She Knows.” (*Fact Check - see link below.)
We had walked back to near Amy’s home, and were going in our different directions. I asked if I could take Amy’s picture.
“I don’t even have any makeup on. We’re having about sixty people over this afternoon for a gigantic Christmas get together. I have to go home and get ready. Today’s a huge cleaning day.”
Amy is currently producing and Director of Photography on a new film called 'Wisteria.'
“I did the years of hard living and having no money. It’s all so worth it,” she said. It didn’t go unnoticed by me that this was the second person in as many days, that was working in a creative field that they were passionate about, successfully.
“It’s been wonderful talking with you,” Amy said. Serendipity indeed. #notastranger
*Fact Check - http://songsshewrote.com