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close encounter with the child-kind

The nail salon where I met Nikki.

The nail salon where I met Nikki.

Written on February 15, 2013

Two days ago I was on assignment for Homegrown. I had to visit a couple of nail salons in order to take pictures and conduct an interview because we plan on featuring the establishments in our March issue.

As I was sitting in one of the salons, getting a complimentary manicure while our staff photographers walked around snapping photos of the space, a little girl and her mother walked in. She looked at me and smiled so I smiled back and said hello. She too said hello, and I asked for her name.

“Nikki,” she said.

“And how old are you, Nikki?” I asked.

“Nine,” was her reply.

“Great age,” I said. “I remember when I was nine.”

This is a lie, of course, but it something I tell all kids using whatever age they give me.

Nikki walked away and got herself settled in one of the chairs. She had her iPad with her, and this kept her occupied for about ten minutes or so. By this time, my nails were dry so I started giving my thanks and goodbyes to the staff, who were all so accommodating.

While waiting for the equipment to be packed away, Nikki came up to me again.

“Are you famous?” she asked.

I smiled. “Do I look famous?”

She smiled back. “I think so. You have these people taking your picture.”

I laughed. “Do you want to be famous?”

“No, not really,” she said.

“No? But I thought everyone wants to be famous!”

She laughed and shrugged.

“Can you sing or act?” This was met with another shrug then silence. She made a move like she was going to walk away, then she said “I was in choir last year.”

“So you DO sing! What did you sing in choir last year?”

“Walking on Sunshine.”

“I used to think maybe you loved me, now baby I’m sure….” My rendition elicited laughter from the photography crew, but Nikki didn’t seem to mind.

She gasped a little. “So you’re a singer!”

Seriously, kid. I wasn’t that good.

“No,” I said. “I’m a writer, but I used to do musical theatre.”

“Was it scary? Being on stage?”

“It used to be,” I said. “Not anymore. Do you think you’d like to do theatre?”

She shook her head. “I want to be a journalist.”

“That’s a big word,” I said. “I’m not sure I knew that one when I was nine. What would you like to write about?”

“Fashion,” she said.

“Then you gotta want to write for Vogue,” I replied.

“Why?” she asked.

“Well,” I said. “I think that would be THE fashion magazine to write for.”

“Okay,” she said. “I will write for Vogue.”  And with that, she gave me one last smile and headed off to her mother.

Little did she know, but that exchange made my day. I’m thinking about it now, and it still makes me smile. No, not because she thought I was famous, but because she spoke so determinedly. She knew she wanted to be a journalist, and after hearing the best place to be, she decided that’s what she would aim for. It was refreshing to speak to someone who was so matter-of-fact about what they wanted. She didn’t complicate or overthink. She was just going to go for it.

I love that attitude. I hope she never loses that spirit.  It’s the stuff dreams-come-true are made with.

So this one is for you, Nikki, wherever you are. Thank you for reminding me that if there’s something you want, you just gotta look at it and say “Okay, going for it.”  I look forward to one day seeing you as Editor-in-Chief of Vogue.

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This entry was posted on April 22, 2013 by in Uncategorized and tagged , .

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