Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Overheard: F Train, York Street

She had huge brown eyes and a swinging ponytail.  Her backpack bunched up her shoulders. She wore a black coat, black pants.  Her friend was the one dressed in rainbow. Long spidery eyelashes. Earrings that brushed her shoulders.

I think when I'm finished with school, when I'm a nurse, I'll be a nurse for twenty or thirty years and then I'll be done with it.  I'll be something else.

You'll go back to school? The friend asked. When you're fifty?

I don't want one career. I want two careers.  I'll be a nurse and then I'll be something else. And when I'm fifty, I'll appreciate school more. When you're young you don't appreciate school.

What will you be when you're fifty?

Maybe. A dentist.

She looked through the glass of the subway doors as we slowed to a stop.  Her eyes did that frantic zig-zag scan, the kind of flash panic that comes when you've passed where you thought you might be, but you're really ahead of it. 

I totally thought we missed our stop.  This is it.

I loved her way of thinking.  The certainty that she wouldn't be one thing but many. The idea that she may not appreciate now what she might then or that becoming doesn't end with youth.

I started to think if I could be one thing now and something else in twenty years, what would that be?  

What would it be for you?


  1. Ha, well I'm already the 20 years later version of me, but back when I was *in* my 20's I had a great job that I gave up to be a SAHM. 15 years later, as I prepare to re-enter into the workforce, I know I want to be two things (in order of preference): 1. a published novelist, and 2. whatever I have to do for supplemental income—something mindless, perhaps, so I can save my creative energy for writing.

    That is an intriguing abstract picture. I can't figure out what it is!

  2. I love this post, Melissa, and I especially love "becoming doesn't end with youth." I wasn't as insightful at that young woman when I was in my 20's. But now as I approach that magical age to which she referred, I have begun to consider "the other me." The first me was a writer/mathematician/computer programmer. The next me is a stay-home mom/writer. The third me will be a sociologist/counselor/writer. The fourth me will be a sage, imparting her wisdom on the younger generation. After that fourth act, I should be done for, don't you think?

  3. Hmmm...a good question...I slowly learning that I will never be at a point in time where I can say: this is it...I've reached my goal and have no farther to seek, have nothing left to learn.

    That's not life is it?! We are always changing, always learning, and hopefully always moving forward!

  4. I've never worked anywhere long enough for it to be considered a career. Although I have been at my current job for the longest of any (self employed), so I hope I'm still working for myself, in some form or another, 20 years from now.

  5. A very thought-provoking conversation, and a really interesting way to look at life! My dad has had many "careers" in his 35 years, and I guess I look to him as inspiration . . . it's never too late to reinvent yourself and do something different, simply because you want to.

    Though I'm a writer now and will always be a writer, I could see myself eventually leaving the newspaper business -- either by choice or necessity -- and becoming a graphic or web designer, my other passions. You just never know!

  6. Damn, I'm gonna be a dentist. :-)

  7. Damn, I'm gonna be a dentist. :-)

  8. Love this. I have wanted many careers, and I've kindof had them. Writer is one, but too many other cool things to limit myself to that. But at the moment, I can't think of my next career. Maybe go back to Adjunct professor? Or maybe something completely different. I love that the possibilities are always there. :)

  9. Since I already did the big career change, I'd like to think that this writer path is where I'll stay. But I'd still love a way to use some of my TV/reporter skills... I suppose that's why I've started doing podcasts on my blog. I like talking to people, sharing stories in a video/audio/print format that aren't just my own.