Today, I got goosebumps.
I was up at 4:00am so I could get into work before my boss, her makeup artist and her hairstylist. Happily. I was happy on 3 hours of sleep, either because I had stayed up reading a great book or because I woke up knowing what day it was. Or both. Midtown is so different at 5:30 in the morning — the sky is the same color as when I’m leaving work, but the streets have all the hectic Hoover’d out of it. The only things making noise were sleepy man-made things, like the subway rumbling below. A guy popped a boisterous wheelie on his motorcycle and that turned heads. Quite unlike you, Midtown.
I think, besides the startled security guards, I was the only person in the entire Hearst building for a few precious minutes today. I sang a lot.
There were about 80 more people in the office than usual because of the camera crew, and everyone was thrown off by all the boys. Gruff man voices, stubble, backwards caps. The lifestyle editor and I kept exchanging excited glances whenever one made noise. I offered coffee to a lot of unfamiliar faces and they all took me up on it. People love coffee. I freakin’ love people.
The morning was a flurry of walkie talkie mumbles, TV crew lingo, hovering with the hair and makeup crew, touch and go moments of extreme panic and happy calm, lots of strangers calling out my name like I’ve done a million favors for them before. Our usually quiet office was lawnmowered by unfamiliar sounds and bodies, and I really, really liked it.
I watched five incredible teens give speeches to an auditorium full of Seventeen readers. I tried to make them laugh as much as possible before they went onstage; they were all leg shakes and smiley, bubbly bundles of nerves. I’ve never seen five more eager beings in my life; here they are, some of the most accomplished teens on the planet, and they were so humbled and honored to meet us. The energy of youth and happiness and anticipation and inspiration made me giddy out of my mind. I kept forgetting to be diligent and alert. I just wanted to watch everything.
At one point, I listened to my boss explain her job to the girls off-camera; that it was her responsibility to get it right month after month because being a teenager is one of the most important times in your life — the whole world is at your feet and, as these girls have proved, anything is possible. It’s her responsibility to lead teen readers through that; to make it fun, make it easy, so they can take advantage of the infinite freedom being a teen can bring.
I got teary eyed and stared hard at the notebook clamped into my elbow so no one could see. The things she was saying were an exact echo of the passion that led me here; that has driven everything I’ve ever done. The smiles on those girls faces put me in a daze. How did I get here? How is it that this is my job now? I get to do this? This is mine?
It was an awkward time to ponder this when so many people were asking me those exact questions today, to my face — all awaiting some sort of stenciled timeline. I haven’t a damn clue what to tell them. I only remember the exact moments in my life where I looked around realized I had somehow ended up somewhere.
Running screaming out of Orange Library upon my first call from an editor.
Standing in the square marked “Seventeen Magazine” along a red carpet in Universal City.
Meeting a college junior who said I helped get her and her friends through freshman year.
Ordering a modest omelet at the grill for breakfast with my future boss.
Clinking glasses with an editor at the Four Seasons Milan.
Opening a clunky interoffice envelope last week to find my first set of company business cards.
Standing in the wings today listening to my boss explain why she works so goddamn hard and loves it so goddamn much.
And each time, goosebumps all over. Radiating from behind my ears, down my arms, through to the backs of my knees. It’s like a milestone gong; like the little celebratory tune at the end of every level of Super Mario. Things are a blur in-between, but the goosebumps bring me back up for air.
I think I get it.
I think I’ll just keep chasing those goosebumps.