The Egg Came First
The hardboiled egg that hatched a college degree, a trip to Europe, and a mind stretched.
Which came first, the Chicken or the Egg?
First of all, you have to wait for the water to boil. Do you put them in before or after the water is bubbling? Is it eight minutes or ten? Then there’s the matter of peeling the nasty little fellers, and for a perfectionist, that is up there with trimming hedges.
Then you actually have to eat them. I don’t know about you, but having my throat coated in yellow gravel is not my favorite way to enjoy snacktime.
Needless to say, I avoid hardboiled eggs.
Except for one morning, a year and a half ago, when my family was off vacationing in New Zealand while I held down the fort and focused on school. I was also just getting started on my collection for fashion week, so the sum total of food in the pantry was down to a carton of eggs (thanks to our neighbor, Mary) and seven cans of green beans. Sewing over grocery shopping!
I grabbed my lunchbag and looked despairingly at the egg carton as I packed my food for school.
“Beh, hard boiled eggs it is.” I muttered to my fat black cat. I selected the last egg from the carton.
“Better watch out, Figaro… You’re next.”
It was the second week of winter term at Linn Benton Community College, and my professors had started to heap on the homework. I’d just received an email from my academic advisor that said there had been an error with my credits. The plan had been that by dual-enrolling in high school and community college in tenth grade, I’d be able to graduate with a 2-year degree by the end of eleventh grade.
According to the message, I was going to be eight credits shy.
This meant I would have to take a whole extra term to meet the requirements. This meant no tie for obtaining NY state residency prior to starting at The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). I stumbled out of my chemistry class with my phone in my hand, feeling the weight of the term and my disappointment piling up.
I should eat something.
I sat at a table in the main lobby and looked down at my unappealing little egg. I picked up a disgraced piece of paper from the floor and started to remove the egg's shell into it in as few pieces as possible (as any OCD laden person would). I choked down my yellow gravel and turned the shell out of the paper and into the trash. As I turned to leave, the words “Career Related Work Experience (CWE)” leapt off the page I'd set into the bin.
CWE? Sounds familiar... Hadn't Ronda mentioned something about that a while back?
I snatched the paper back out of the trash, brushed off bits of egg, and took in what it had to say. Apparently, any student working in a field similar to their major could qualify for school credit.
“See David Bird in room 123 for more information,” the little letters at the bottom of the page read. I lifted my head to see another set of black letters on the wall. They were large and in bold and read “Room 123.”
I had 20 minutes before my next class started. I gathered my things and my courage and marched into Room 123. According to the paper, the enrollment deadline for the program had been set for the week prior, but I had to give it a try. I'd worked too hard not to finish on time.
As it turned out, David Bird wasn’t the scary, stern man with a veto stamp I'd conjured up in my mind. He had a welcoming smile and photos of grandchildren and his dog littering the walls of his office. In fact, Dr. Bird had been following my story in the newspapers and was happy to help me out. I explained my situation, and before I knew it I was enrolled in the CWE program with my final eight credits within grasp.
Four months later, in May, my mom and I were starting to think about our move to New York. It was finally clear that my credits were going to transfer over and I was ready for the next step, but there were some logistics to sort out.
You know, like, where we going to live?? Minor details.
Maybe it was the changing weather, or maybe it was the 27 credits I'd been crawling through in order to finish on time, but I'd wound up in bed with pneumonia, so my mom (the saint that she is!) agreed to turn my final CWE assignment in to Dr. Bird for me on her way through Albany.
While she was there, they got to talking about our housing predicament.
“You should check out SabbaticalHomes.com,” he said to her.
The site is designed for professors who want to take a sabbatical to another part of the world, but for a small fee, regular pueblians can join too. You can either do a house-swap, pay rent, or combination of both. His idea was that we could do a house exchange with our place in Scio.
“Yeah, but what professor would want to live in Scio?” Mom said, “It’s so far from anything.”
“Just try it,” he said.
So we did.
And we had six offers in the first week.
We did a three-way exchange, where a couple from North Carolina moved into our home in Scio, and we moved into a woman’s apartment in New York City (she was off sailing the Aegean sea or something).
The couple from North Carolina, John and Sheryl, “just happen” to teach business in Latvia five months out of the year. My mom’s brother and his family, as you may have read earlier, also live in Latvia.
When were all settled in the New York apartment on Maiden Lane, we came across some bottles with “Riga, Latvia,” on them. Pretty soon we found a woven Latvian blanket.
The woman who owns the apartment we were living in turned out to also be connected with Latvia. I mean, before this blog post had you even heard of Latvia?
The coincidences are beginning to pile up here, but hold on for a few more...
The Maiden Lane apartment was bursting with books on travel and the walls were plastered with posters from London.
I must have applied for fifty internships last winter. Being that I haven't even been to fashion school though, I only heard back from a handful of companies. Out of those, TAMMAM looked like it would be the bet fit, so I went through the process to make it official.
When it came time for the Skype interview I realized that in those fifty applications there had been one small detail that I'd missed. The owner of TAMMAM had a British accent! The internship was not in New York, but in London.
I thought about saying no, but the posters on the walls at Maiden Lane and the glossy travel-book pages on the bookshelves had sparked a curiosity in my about England. I wanted to go.
Once more, there was the question of housing.
At that time, however, a woman I'd met at New York Fashion Week (that I wouldn't have been at if I hadn't been living in New York City), who had just moved from Ecuador, was living with us while she got settled.
I was sitting under the London Underground poster on Maiden Lane, explaining how badly I wanted to take the internship even though I had no place to stay.
"My sister lives in London," she said. "You'll stay with her! She will receive you like she is receiving me."
And that was that.
Fast forward two months and I am sitting at the breakfast table of John and Sheryl (who we met exclusively through SabbaticalHomes) in Riga, Latvia. I’m in a colorful land of musical people who feel so much pride for their country that the buildings they were forced to construct under Soviet rule were painted with the burgundy stripes of the Latvian Flag.
I am in at the Spanish-speaking church of my Ecuadorian host-family in London, England. I am stitching English lace into couture gowns at a Kings Cross atelier with a handful of other interns from all over the globe.
I am meeting my long-lost Scottish cousin for drinks, and finding, and delighting in, all that we share despite the fact that we grew up on separate continents. I'm going to ice cream three times in one day with a fellow intern from Algeria, who is preparing for her 40-day fast through Ramadan, and finding, and delighting in, all that we share.
I am stepping through the pages of those travel books I poured over at Maiden Lane -- feeling the waves from the Baltic Sea on my skin, tapping my feet down cobblestone streets, experiencing first hand the things I have only ever read about. I have the opportunity to build relationships, expand ideas, and come back to America with mind stretched.
One hardboiled egg that I just happened to peel onto to a certain piece of paper, not only got me graduated from high school and community college, but it also got me to New York City, and to Europe. It changed my resumé and my heart.
When I think of everything that has happened in the last year, of all the connections, one built upon the other, I can’t help but laugh at God’s sense of humor. If He can use one hardboiled egg to get all of those intricate pieces to come together, just think about how He can use the working hands and feet of you and me.
There are so many times when I feel like I should be doing something more. I should be trying harder. I should be making some sort of difference. But I can’t see the big picture can I?
My neighbor, Mary, has left hundreds of eggs on our doorstep in Scio over the past three years. She probably didn't think it was a big thing. Just a small, kind thing. Mary showed one simple act of kindness to us. She had no idea how God would use it to unleash an outlandish slew of events in my life.