101 Days, 101 Strangers, 101 Stories: Day 86

As I stood at the bus stop this evening, I texted Translink to see when the next bus would be arriving. There were still 17 minutes to spare. I let out a sigh to myself as I was the only one there waiting. A couple minutes later, a girl walked up to the stop, headphones in and pizza box on hand. I broke the news to her and she smiled because when you know you have to wait for a while you might as well smile. That, or it’s possible she didn’t hear what I’d said.

As we stood beside each other facing the street, I noticed she had taken her headphone out of her ears. I turned to her and said “will you be my stranger of the–”

“Yes!” she said, enthusiastically, before I even finished my sentence. Her name is Alyssa and she is my stranger of the day.

I explained my project, remarking that if we had to wait for a while we might as well have a conversation. I’m glad we did.

Alyssa is studying animation at the Art Institute of Vancouver. She’d spent some time studying at UBC previously, but realized that it wasn’t for her. She had just been trying to make her parents happy, but going to university wasn’t something she loved. So she made the switch to art school and hasn’t looked back.

In her free time, she loves to draw and paint. I asked her if she had any examples of her work on hand and thankfully, she did. Once we hopped on the bus, she showed me some photos on her phone of paintings and drawings she had done. They were absolutely incredible. One piece consisted solely of dots made with a pen. The dots converged to create a very realistic face of a baby. It looked like a real photo!

Alyssa also showed me one of her paintings of an elephant. This piece was equally as wonderful but a little more surrealist. The right side of the elephant was ordinary and grey, while, to the left, the painting might as well have had everything you own in a box — it was filled with colours and squiggles and shapes galore. I wish I could have posted them here.

She spent her summer diving on the coast of Roatán Isla de Bahía, Honduras and teaching kids about art in the Okanagan Valley. The kids ranged from 4-15 years of age. She had a lot of fun and loves working with kids, but their ages provided a pretty stark contrast in the work she was doing. At one moment she’d be teaching a 14 year old a new artistic technique, and the next, she’d be teaching a 4 year old how to use scissors.

photo (12) 2

Alyssa’s from Vernon in the Okanagan. She liked growing up there, but described it as small and boring. “Everyone knows everyone”, she said. Now she lives in downtown Vancouver and loves it.

Her dream would be to work as an animator for Disney or Pixar. I think she’s talented and open enough to achieve it, and I’m excited to see where her artwork takes her.

Her advice? “Do what you love and not just what someone else wants you to do.” It was inspiring to see her living her own advice, dropping out from UBC and pursuing her animation dreams.

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