(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And it's time now for StoryCorps. Today, what can happen when you take the time to start a conversation with a stranger? Thirty-one-year-old Brian Peterson is a car designer living in Santa Ana, Calif. Every day, he passed by 38-year-old Matt Faris, who has been homeless for more than a decade. And then one day, Brian decided to say, hello.
BRIAN PETERSON: I remember walking up to you. There was, like, butterflies in my stomach. I introduce myself, and I think I apologized to you. I remember saying, I'm sorry for, like, driving by you a hundred times and never saying hi, 'cause you were always outside my building.
MATT FARIS: You asked me a lot of questions like what I want to do with my life, things that are important to a person.
PETERSON: One of the first things you told me was that I moved here from Kentucky to be a musician, and some things didn't work out.
PETERSON: And then I remember out of nowhere, I just asked you, can I paint your portrait?
FARIS: My first thought when you asked that was, oh, wow, an artist, something I have somewhat in common with.
PETERSON: In that first conversation, I was looking at you and you say you're not photogenic. But I saw the man who moved from Kentucky, the guy who came out here to pursue a career in music. And I hadn't painted in eight years. But you were the first guy that captured my heart and gave me a subject to paint.
FARIS: And when you asked me what I wanted to do with the proceeds for the painting, I didn't even have to think about it.
PETERSON: I was trying to get you, like, hotel rooms and clothes and book bags and shoes...
FARIS: Yeah, you made some suggestions.
PETERSON: (Laughter) And you'd always say...
FARIS: Well, that sounds nice, but I want to record a CD.
PETERSON: After you told me that for, like, the 10th time, I started finding studios for you to record in. In that first recording session, I saw you on the piano, on the guitar, singing.
PETERSON: And then I remember you got to the drums, and there was no drum set. We were like, well, just use synthesized drums. And you told me, no way. And I thought to myself, man, how many areas in my own life have I just maybe gave in to settling for less? And the fact that you wouldn't was a lesson that I've taken with me from that day.
FARIS: I don't know, like, how many people will end up hearing the album. But it's really helped me a lot to meet someone who's really stuck with me.
PETERSON: For me, I consider you more than a friend. You've shown me things may not always be what they seem, that there's a new way of looking at the world. And everyone deserves to be seen with eyes of love.
(SOUNDBITE OF MATT FARIS' "MELTING")
GREENE: Brian Peterson and Matt Faris for StoryCorps in Santa Ana, Calif. And Faris was wondering if anyone was going to hear his album. Well, you are hearing his album. This song is from the album that Faris just finished. And if you want to see Brian's painting of Matt Faris, you can visit npr.org. Their story is going to be archived at the Library of Congress.
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