February has been, as always, a gloomy month. By this time the snow is no longer fresh and novel, but it’s still falling just as hard as when it started, our bodies are stuck in a three-month perma-chill, and even the sunniest souls are suffering from the constant Nor’eastern gloom. And with the recent demands of school, work, and ghosts shuffling through the purgatory of my mind, I’ve been taking especially hard to the season.
These days I chug along through the gloom and live for the sacred moments outside of the mundane. A plane ride here, a concert there. A late night in someones kitchen, cooking late night breakfast or lying on the floor just like we used to do. Surprise visits and date nights, letters on pretty paper, and plans for the next big party. For now it works, but some days it really does drag on…
Last Friday was a break from the mundane to be certain, but instead of escapism or the bare minimum to keep my soul running red, I found myself lit up again. I went to Chicago for a career day conference and an informational interview with a very cool company – in and out on the first and last planes of the day. (the epic continued long past the end of business hours, but that’s another story for another time.)
I woke up at 4am. Or, rather, heard my alarm ringing at 4am and decided I no longer had to pretend to sleep. Shower. Breakfast. tights, suit, very fashionable black and white blouse. Red beads. Resumes, directions, headphones, boarding pass. Standing in line for security, watching the travelers beside me. Moms in capri pants, Dads in sandals with socks (against their wives’ advice) and children with brightly colored plastic rolling carry-ons. Young men in suits standing tall, rehearsing their presentations in their heads while the older men in suits slouching wished they could get their presentations out of their heads. Girls my age in capri pants with tan ankles and tropical printed tote bags. Next in line said the man in the blue button up, flashing his eyes up and down my potentially suspicious self and his black light across my drivers license.
I clear security with enough time to grab a coffee. Grande skinny vanilla latte, please. The barista told me I looked pretty, the Real Housewife of Oakland County behind me tapped her heel impatiently. I made it to the gate, plugged my headphones into my phone (pandora app…yes please), and pulled out a bottle of nail polish. It was a Vampire Weekend station kind of moment as I sat there in my suit at 6:30am, giving myself a manicure on top of one of my extra resumes and the armrest of a plastic airport bench-chair. I laughed, boarded the plane, and watched the sun rise over its wings.
The day was fantastic. Something I must have heard a hundred times throughout the day was that this is the industry for people who are a little crazy. Everyone that belongs here isn’t quite right in the head, and if you are, you won’t belong. You have to be the kind of person who watches every move people make every minute of the day. You have to watch ads and promotions and comment on all of them and drive your friends crazy. You have to wonder why people do everything they do, and you have to wonder why other strategists do what they do. Why did they use that model? That display looked perfect and placing it there was just right, and what is that song? To be in marketing – experiential and new-aged types especially – you have to know what people like and love and want and need before they do. The people who make it here, they said, are the ones who couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
When the winter gray seems to stretch on infinitely into the horizon, it’s hard to remember that there’s a destination to which you’re riding. But when you get a glimpse of it, everything floods back and you remember how much you love the road you’re on and where you’re going. I love experiential marketing – the fast pace of the agency, the consumer insight, the building of relationships and the value placed on creativity. The vision and the practicality in tandem, the constant motion, the people whose eyes are still twinkling at 45. Sometimes I get bogged down doing all the things to kill the time and pay the bills and fill the resume until I get there, and it takes a day like this to remind me where I’m going.
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar