My moment with Meghan: sixty seconds in the hands of fate


Photo Courtesy to Anthony Olivier

Kaitlyn Olivier, Staff Writer

The Unspeakable happened.

I came face to face with my hero in New York City last week. I met her in a bookstore, unsurprisingly. It was nearing 10 p.m. on a Saturday night, and I was headed back to my hotel after a night out on Union Square when I decided to check out the Barnes and Noble across the street. I was excitably overwhelmed, to say the least; I had never seen a bookstore so huge in my life, and being the bookworm that I am, I had seen my fair share of bookstores. This Barnes and Noble was nestled comfortably between two similarly large buildings–an unlikely sight for a bookshop in the city of New York made of skyscrapers and Empire State-like high-rises.

My journey began on the first floor as I flipped through countless classics and Pulitzer Prize winners. I climbed the escalator to the second floor to be met with the widest array of teen fiction I had ever seen, and continued to move up another story to find myself engrossed in sports and United States history. Once I had finished reviewing the details of the War of 1812, I rode the escalator to the final floor, where collections of famous poets and haunting murder mysteries managed to seize my attention for a solid thirty minutes.

I was gradually making my way down from the fourth story of this massive Barnes and Noble when, upon reaching the first floor, I noticed a woman scanning a carousel of greeting cards.

And there was Meghan.

Could it be? Meghan Daum, in the flesh, my all-time favorite journalist? Absolutely not. Yes?

It was her, alright. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I had never imagined I would see her in person. That small, dime-sized face that appeared above her articles was finally a face I could grasp in its entirety; what I thought would forever remain a mere image of my source of inspiration had finally become a reality, and she was standing right in front of me.

She took a book up to the front of the store to purchase. I quickly dropped the poetry I had clutched to my chest and made a beeline for the nearest bookstand to the register, pretending to check out the latest releases in fiction while keeping Meghan in the line of my peripheral vision.

We all know a famous actor when we see one. But as for writers, they’re different. We know them not for their outward personalities and physical appearances, but rather for what’s inside of them, and for the words they use to truly define who they are.

For this reason, it came by no surprise when Meghan was shocked I had any idea of who she was. I stopped her on her way out and asked her if she was Meghan Daum. She said, “Yes, why?” I could tell she was surprised I had recognized her; it’s fairly uncommon that writers are identified for anything other than the words they put on paper. I told her she was my favorite journalist, and she seemed surprised by that, as well. Meghan informed me of a speech her good friend Kate Bolick would be giving at NYU the following Monday, and then I asked her if she would take a quick picture with me.

Just like that, sixty seconds had passed, and I found myself standing where I’d been before, mindlessly gazing at stacks of fiction novels. It took me a moment to process what had just happened, and how it had happened, for that matter. There was no better way to explain my encounter with Meghan than with the pure doing of Fate.

I truly believe I was meant to meet Meghan when I did. Out of the hundreds of thousands of journalists in the world, I ran into the one I admire most on a busy night in New York City. Call me crazy, but that doesn’t just happen to anyone.

Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be a famous journalist like her. One thing I do know is that Fate has a funny way of reminding us of what it’s like to have a hero, and why we aspire as much as we do to be exactly like whoever our hero may be.

I’m forever thankful for the sixty seconds I was given with Meghan, and for the glimpse I was able to catch of the writer I hope to become one day. I have little written down from the night I met Meghan, yet nonetheless I hope you are able to grasp the intense passion with which I present these notes to you now.

These are a fan’s notes, and they’re all true.


Note: This article is inspired by Meghan Daum’s My dinner with Joni written for The Los Angeles Times, where she speaks of her encounter with her hero, Joni Mitchell. I now write of my similar experience, with Meghan herself as my hero. Meghan, I’m sure you never imagined our short confrontation would live on to become a written account. Sometimes, we find extraordinary people in unexpected places, and if you’re anyone’s hero, you’re mine.