“In plants, as in people, the strongest candidate for survival is often the ‘volunteer'” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Matthew Soto by © Cyndal Lorch

“Mathew was a trooper. We played around with a few concepts and dates to do his shoot, and ended up on a bridge, in the dark, on what I think was the most humid night of the summer so far, with mosquitos out looking for a snack. His girlfriend managed to prevent any pedestrians and cyclists from colliding with my light stand that was nicely concealed by the dark, and we managed to walk away unharmed (and I think unbitten for the most part). Mathew has a passion for sports, travel, food and loves trying new things. I think his openness to my photo ideas is a testament to that. Thank you Mathew for participating in our Project!” – Cyndal L

Image by © Cyndal Lorch

An Interview with Mathew

Q. What is the best memory you have from a previous birthday?

A. The year I had turned 19 would have to be the best birthday weekend in past memory. I had rented out a house to throw a party with all my closest friends on the Friday of that weekend. Then, being legal to finally go out, I also went out the following night to a club around the house I was staying at. That same weekend on Sunday evening I flew out to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic to escape the cold winter that we all endure during the month of February. My 19th goes down as the most memorable and eventful birthday I have had thus far.

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. My worst birthday would have to be when I was 10 years old. My parents had rented out Lazer tag for 2 hours for 10- 15 of my friends. Everyone had RSVP’d on time and it was expected to be a great turn out. However, with the luck of every winter baby, that day of my birthday party so happened to be the day the most snow had fallen that winter season. Being that it was very dangerous to drive in those conditions only 4 kids showed up and they were my cousins. I was not the happiest 10 year old, I can tell you that!

Q. What was the present you’ve received for your birthday that surprised you most?

A. I recall one year (cannnot remember what age) where my mother had told me that she was no longer going to throw me any parties because I was getting to old for them. So instead she suggested we go out for dinner to Mandarin, which in my opinion was a solid substitution for not having a party. So thinking that it was only my parents and younger brother going to dinner, we walk to our table and there was the majority of my extended family along with my older brothers and sisters and a couple of my close friends. I have to say I was really shocked and never expected to see any of them there!

Q. Is there a food or dish that you insist on eating on your birthday?

A. As I have been getting older, my interest for food has changed drastically. I used to be very basic in the sense where I would ask my mother to prepare a nice chicken cutlet meal with some roasted potatoes, which was my favourite meal growing up as a kid. Over the past three years, I have kept up with trying a new sushi spot around the city of Toronto every year for my birthday. I have grown a liking to all different types of sushi and enjoy it every year for my birthday.

Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?

A. I know this may come off as corny but because I’m very friend and family oriented, I believe having them by your side every year on your birthday is the most important thing. I could not see myself celebrating my birthday with anyone else other than my friends and family. These are the people that help you stay sane in this crazy world we live in and spending such a day with them never felt more right.

Q. Do you have any traditions or thing you always do to celebrate a birthday? What is it?

A. A tradition that has started ever since my mom felt I was becoming too old for birthday parties has been going out for dinner or lunch with my immediate family. We always make time in our busy schedules to pick a day relatively close to my birthday to go out and enjoy an evening of good food and even better company. The plus side is, if its your birthday you get to choose the spot, so sushi it is!