I got on the elevator today just after noon. There was a woman on there already, descending from a higher floor, wearing a full-length fur coat, nice leather gloves, sleek sunglasses and a wooly purple hat with flowers that looked like someone’s color-blind grandmother had made. The hat did not go with the rest of her look at all, and it made me love her instantly. She turned to me, looked at my down coat, scarf and hat (that my sister made for me ten years ago) and in a bright English accent said,
“We’re both terrifically bundled today!”
I nodded with a smile and she continued.
“Are you on your way to school?”
I was surprised she asked me this, as most of the time when people see me in the elevator during the day they ask me if I’m off from work today. There was something in me that was really pleased that she recognized me as a student and I told her that while I am in school right now, I didn’t have class until the evening. She asked me what I was studying and I told her writing, expecting the normal furrowed brow and “that’s nice” that I get from most people. Instead she smiled widely and said, “how wonderful!” She proceeded to tell me that she thought that it was a fantastic choice, as the ability to write is such a useful one. She compared it to having a law degree in it’s flexibility.
I often feel like I have to apologize for what I’ve chosen to study these days, because it isn’t deeply practical and doesn’t have an obvious career path. My brief conversation with this woman made me feel, at least for the moment, strong and happy to be pursuing this path. While I know intellectually that the only opinion that matters is my own, I’ve been in need of a bit of external affirmation lately. I had been feeling comfortable and even excited by how much I don’t know about my future when suddenly I shifted into a place where the spaciousness of my life scared the ever-living crap out of me. It was a relief that for the length of an elevator ride someone else expressed confidence that of course I was going to be okay.