Clare Yow recounts how she connected with her beau over Voices of the Street 2015
Finding love by chance through Megaphone
It was many years ago that I was reading a library book and jotted this line down.
“I think that while we were still converging, before we made contact, we were in a state of mathematical grace.”
I remember thinking that the sentence, from Ian McEwan's Enduring Love, was utterly poetic—the way it hinted at a kind of inevitability, bodies of strangers deep in glacial movements. The lonely, shy heart in me appreciated it, and like other sources of inspiration I encounter, pocketed those words for another day.
Since then, most strangers have left me walking away from our small, positive moments of contact feeling wonderfully comforted. Discovering something in common with another person makes anonymity simply dissipate. Invisible threads are made visible. These fleeting moments are casual reminders that this world isn’t so immense after all.
A chance meeting
Leo Yu and I met on May 7, 2015, just before the celebration for Voices of the Street’s fifth annual edition. A group of his friends—all in social-change fields—were meeting up for drinks beforehand and Leo welcomed me to join in. I happily obliged and rushed over from the other end of the city after work. Being the last one to arrive, I sat at one end of the booth, only managing a wave at Leo before getting to know those closest by first. It humbled me to meet them, to know that they did meaningful work in the community.
We finally met in person ten months after our initial contact on social media. At the start of 2015 though, we’d been in the same room for a film screening, unbeknownst to one another. A mutual acquaintance of ours shared something I posted on Twitter, and by luck, I popped up on Leo’s radar.
We then discovered our commonalities through what we shared online: everything from our views on human rights and self-care, to pictures of old Volkswagen vans we saw, and our scuffed sneakers.
Beyond an online connection
It was fitting that we met where we did, seeing as building community and social awareness are both things we highly value and practice day-to-day. The stories and storytellers themselves at Voices of the Street were ever so powerful and spirited. I sat next to Leo whom I barely knew, save for his 140-character messages. Enveloped in the emotions that swirled around the room all night, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of comfort.
I hadn’t thought about it until now, but in the months following that evening and today, still, Leo and I began to undertake what all those brave storytellers did in front of so many.
It’s an act that demands the utmost openness, trust, and I believe above all, vulnerability. Through Megaphone, people listen, take notice, relate. This is the power and value of narrative.
Leo and I mirrored that in our own way, growing our friendship throughout this past summer. Over pizza and wine, in community gardens, riding our bikes, and laying on an elephant-print blanket almost always overlooking a body of water. We spilled open and surfaced countless memories, delving deeply into childhood stories, our fumbles into heartache, and the fires in our bellies. Our shared Chinese-Canadian heritage and immigrant backgrounds underpinned all our exchanges.
It was invigorating to have our histories and ideas collide with such frankness, optimism, but also caution, all at an unhurried pace. Those invisible threads had materialized and it’s safe to say, our heads were over our heels by the time August came around.
You can see just how storytelling and relationship building are in perfect symbiosis, reciprocally empowering. We didn't know what, if anything, would come of our initial contact and subsequent ones, but the one constant all this time was an openness and natural trust in the other person. Here's to the continued beauty of chance and not knowing.