When I lived in San Francisco one of my restaurant friends vehemently loved Van Morrison. We’d go to her house after work and open bottles of wine and increasingly become less and less intelligible as we sang along. I didn’t understand her fascination with him, I thought the music was a little folksy but I was so happy to spend time with her that I would have listened to anything.
It was in San Francisco that my dreams of becoming a fashion designer started to come true. I landed a job with an accessories company as a production assistant and worked my way up into the design room as a coordinator between design and production. Fashion is a very stressful business and eventually the head designer decided he wanted to cut back and focus just on the women’s line so I was given the opportunity to design for our kid’s division. I was so excited that I would often go into the office at night after they gym to work on my collections. I remember clearly the joy of strategizing and reworking each piece over and over again alone in the office on those nights. Our office was fabulous. It was in an old warehouse south of market with exotically big windows and a spectacular view of the bay bridge.
I had a mixed CD in the stereo at the office, a compilation with Van Morrison’s version of “Someone Like You” on it. I used to put this song on repeat and look out of those windows at the lights of downtown San Francisco and the bay bridge and feel in my heart that my dreams were finally starting to come true. I’d wanted to be a fashion designer since I was a little girl. I started making clothes for my dolls as soon as my mother taught me how to sew. I realize that part of my satisfaction was in knowing that I had worked really, really hard for that job. I started design school in Maui in my late twenties. I worked 2 and 3 jobs on the side for my first 5 years in the industry. There was definitely a sense of joy in finally accomplishing something that hadn’t been easy.
I felt like I was starting to make it. I was designing my first collection. Yes, it was a line of hats and bags for little girls with Santa appliques but it was a collection and I was the designer and someone was paying me to do it.
Even though I didn’t have a passport and I’d never been out of the country I just knew that my fashion career and my future were both going to be amazing.
Most people see this as a love song. This song has never been about that for me. Oh, I’ve had my fair share of “IF ONLY my prince would come” moments, but not surrounding this song. Somehow it became associated with wistful optimism in my mind. I assume it’s because when I used to listen to it with my restaurant friend we would stay up most of the night dreaming and strategizing about our fabulous futures.
I’m in a graduate program in Spiritual Psychology. At the end of every class weekend we all practice a ritual similar to speed dating where we grasp hands and look into each other’s eyes for a few seconds before a bell rings and we move onto the next person. A lot of people cry during this process. It’s very powerful not just to fully see someone else, but also to be truly and absolutely seen. After 5 minutes of so everyone stops and they play an inspirational song. Last month that song was “Someone Like You.” They referenced the first line; “I’ve been searching a long time for someone like you.” We were told; maybe the one you’ve been searching for is you.
I felt the tears bubble up from my soul. I went right back to that warehouse in San Francisco. I was reminded of the hope and the optimism that I felt during that time. Nobody gave me the power to be optimistic then, I gave that power to myself. My future was completely and absolutely up to me.
After over 20 years in the fashion industry I have a well-used passport and I’m grateful to have traveled all over the world. I realize that I can approach my future today the same way I approached it then, with a feeling of hope and optimism, with the belief that anything is possible and that I alone am in charge of my destiny.
It seems appropriate to quote one of the last lines of “Someone Like You” here-
The best is yet to come.