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836/900 - Roxanne | by jeffcbowen
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836/900 - Roxanne

It was dusk in the east end of Toronto and I was on my way to the ATM to do a bit of banking. I saw her sitting on a ledge outside the subway station wearing inline skates. I was drawn to her healthy, happy appearance as she looked at her mobile phone with a look of amusement on her face. The light was lousy and I didn’t have my camera with me so I noticed her and continued on my errand.

 

I have felt a bit lacking in motivation to reach out this week and I don’t know why. I went for a nice long bike ride through the city today and saw some good candidates for the project but always saw something that wasn't quite right and kept moving - at least enjoying the ride. I did stop one excellent prospect but she was short on time and I accepted her friendly “I’m sorry but I’m short on time but I hope your project goes well.” Usually I would follow-up with “I could do it in two minutes” but today I didn’t.

 

Heading to the bank, I told myself “If she’s still there when I come back, I’m going to introduce myself and ask. I have my phone in my pocket and even though the conditions are poor, she looks really friendly and I’d like to at least give it a try.”

 

She was and I did.

 

She took out an earphone and listened with friendly surprise to my request. “Sure, but it would have to be kind of quick because I’m waiting for someone who’s about to arrive. Oh, and I’m not very photogenic.” My response was “Oh boy, have I ever heard that before... and I don’t buy it.” We both laughed. Meet Roxanne.

 

My options were limited as I knew I had to get next to the windows of the subway station to capture some artificial light to supplement the flat, minimal light of a sun that had already set. She walked a few steps in her skates and carried the grocery bag she had with her – presumably holding shoes and perhaps a change of clothes. Roxanne exuded friendliness and trust and said she was waiting for her sister’s boyfriend. They were going to meet up with her family and go to a movie together.

 

The two windows available were both partially blocked, one by a vending machine inside and the other by a poster on the window. I made the best of it and explained that I was waiting for people in the background to pass to reduce clutter in the already cluttered background. I felt Roxanne’s good will and positive energy as she patiently posed for the photo and warned me that she had just blinked in the prior one. I wasn’t at all confident that I had a usable photo and just then her sister’s boyfriend arrived and introduced himself, before stepping aside. We shook hands and I said “Roxanne will explain but I’m doing a photo project.” I tried one more photo and this is it. (Focus was flawed in the others.)

 

We quickly exchanged information. Roxanne is 20 and was born and raised in Toronto. “Do you have anything you would like to share with the world?” “Umm, gosh. Let’s see. I guess just do what YOU want to do and don’t worry too much what others think.” “An example?” “Well, I attended the University of Toronto for a year but I wasn’t ready for it and didn’t have a plan. I was doing it mostly to please my family. I’m taking a year off, working as a server and saving up some money. I’m going to return to school, but not university. I want to be a paramedic. You have to find what you want and then you will be motivated.” I could tell that this young woman was getting it all figured out.

 

I feel as if Roxanne was there for a reason. I was a bit stuck and hesitant in reaching out to people this week and needed to get unstuck. The fact that the sun had gone down and I was without my camera wasn’t going to stop me when I saw her friendly face outside the subway station. Roxanne’s friendly face was exactly what I needed. In the brief couple of minutes we had, I sensed youthful energy and good will. I think it shows in Roxanne’s portrait.

 

Thank you Roxanne for sharing a couple of minutes with this stranger and for your participation in The Human Family. You are now #836 in Round 9 of my project. Good luck with school. The world needs more life-savers.

 

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Taken on June 26, 2015