a young woman with a dream

Remember when you were a kid and you’d meet someone who truly inspired you and made you feel like anything was possible? I recall my teen years, when I met a woman from my acting class who was freelance writing, acting and riding a bicycle around the city. She had me over to practice at the narrow old Victorian home she was house-sitting, which had a library, a sunroom and a few furry fat cats. I wanted to be just like her minus the freckles and the Tilda Swinton pallor. And I wanted the cats and house to belong to me.

Later, when I defined my goals as a combination of acting and media, I remember how I would perspire at opportunity – when meeting the executive producer of an Oscar-winning Canadian film, I beamed with anticipation. A few years later,at the Toronto International Film Festival TIFF filmmakers party, I met my first successful independent filmmaker who I hoped would help me start off my career in some way, shape or form. Something. Behind the camera. In front of it. On set. Anything. I was proud of myself for handing out three business cards that night.

This afternoon I met up with a friend of mine who works for a popular Middle Eastern magazine as a fashion and beauty editor. Every time I see her I feel a bit underdressed. Tall and thin with voluminous curls, she looks every bit the fashion and beauty expert.  She’s one of those people who looks naturally glamorous, and posing for photos with her at events means I’ll always have a spot in some local magazine as her sidekick. . When we get together we turn into little girls who catch up on gossip and talk about the industry, events, work, our travels, our goals, our triumphs, our futures and, of course, love.

At some point in our endless lunch there was a young waitress who passed our table, and my friend remarked at how lovely her skin is. When I looked at the girl I saw a pure, flawless complexion. It was obvious she’d put painstaking effort into making her skin look like porcelain with an earthy apricot blush. As she approached our table I got a closer look. Her ethnicity was indefinable, which is often the case here in Dubai. Her light brown hair was tied back with the bangs falling in light wisps around her face. She wore barely any eyeliner and probably just one coat of mascara. She was pretty and you could tell the skin beneath her foundation was immaculate. “Are you done with these?” she asked us, gesturing towards our plates. “Yes, thank you…we were just saying how lovely your skin is,” I said to her, getting straight to the point. She flushed, adding a slight rose to the apricot. “Thank you,” she said. “We noticed it because we both work in beauty,” I added. “What are you wearing?” A huge smile came over her face. “You work in beauty? Like at a magazine?” she exclaimed. My friend nodded and I said that I work in beauty PR. “I want to be a fashion journalist,” the young girl stated, also getting straight to the point. I liked her.  “I was just about to start an internship in Europe but I came here… I want to work in fashion!” she said, her eyes flashing back and forth between us.

She went into detail on her favourite beauty products, gushing about how much she loves fashion and how she couldn’t wait to work in it. We learned that she was 19 and waitressing so she could save money to be an intern in Paris and study in a fashion journalism program there. Ten minutes later, she was still standing with us, asking my friend what it was like to do what she does. She stared at my friend in admiration as she told her how she goes to a lot of events and has to keep up with trends and interview designers. She was in love, not with Cynthia but with the idea of working in fashion. “But it’s a lot of work. The work never stops and I don’t even get to go to all the events. And it gets expensive dressing for all those events!” my hardworking friend finished, staring at the girl pointedly. “I know, I want to do it,” the girl said firmly. “I want to do all of that,” she said.
I think we both saw something in the outgoing girl with the fresh face. “Why don’t you give me your number and I’ll pass on your details to our human resources department? I’m sure we can get you an internship,” my friend said. She wanted to make this girl’s dreams come true. “I think she’ll do very well in fashion,” she said as the girl stepped away to put away the plates and grab her phone. They exchanged numbers and my friend and I both returned to our offices, not before making plans to try the dessert counter at Bateel Cafe on our next date.
As I drove away I had this feeling inside of me, call it nostalgia ..I felt like I’d just stepped out into the cold, crisp autumn air and was jolted awake. She woke me up, the young girl did. I was reminded of how it felt to get that excited about something, to feel the rush of what could be and to look forward to a call and feel like something I really want is about to happen in my life. It doesn’t happen often. I mean, it happens — I get really caught up in some of my work projects and goals. But it doesn’t happen that way. And it doesn’t feel the same. Now, I expect to achieve things. I expect things to happen, and they often do because I’ve learned the right steps. I’ve learned not to dwell on things that don’t happen as I wish, because I am already aware that not everything goes as expected. As a young woman with the whole world before her, every new encounter and possibility means something. And every failure really hurt, I recall. As a young woman at the beginning of my career I never expected anything and when it happened it was a huge bonus. I guess I saw in her the flutter of surprise that youth brings with it. “If I only knew then what I know now…” is the phrase that comes to mind. Yet I can’t say I’d change a thing about what I’ve learned along the way. But I’d like to change some things for the future.
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