And this is what it taught me:
I love giving long prologues, but for this one, starting from the time my sister introduced me to Man Repeller, to the time I followed them just for fashion, to now while I went through a shit time in my life, and it inspiring me to write again; I really wouldn’t know where to start and end this one.
I will tell you this much. I have had days where I didn’t recognize myself or my life. I wasn’t sure if I will ever find myself again. If I will ever be able to form thoughts again, let alone write- and there it was- during a time when most people I knew abandoned me, this website, a blog, a community- call it what you may- with Leandra’s podcasts sitting on bathroom floors, to my new found soul-matey situation happening with Haley and her honest writing, MR has been my buddy. Literally that’s the word; a buddy- who heard me, spoke my words, knew when to give me a lecture and when to take me shopping.
Anyhoo- skipppppinngggg prologue-yes please- moving on…
Cut to MAY 22nd, 2018.
After overcoming a year long travel block, I find myself in New York, In Soho. It’s 4 pm. Me and sister are talking about how the MR office is a 15 minute walk, from the Mansur Gavriel store (sister’s fav), which is where we were at. Chatting about how cool it would be if we could just go say hi to Leandra. Wondering how and where we could find her. Which brings me to lesson number 1:
1- Google Maps could single handedly be the most reality altering app (is it, an app?) of this century.
So there we were, bummed at not being able to afford the bag sister loved- decided to just walk to the MR office. And take it from there.
2- Sometimes you just need to follow your gut- or your sister- and not have a plan. That’s ok. That’s how most people are doing it. Top secret information.
So we get there. But there’s a bar, a grocery store, a small boutique and literally random buildings. We try and guess, sister quickly looks for cues on Instagram, but nope- no success.
So I confidently walk up to the girl at the boutique, act like I am a journalist, and ask if she knew where the MR office is? She tells me it’s the building next door, second floor. The boy standing next to the girl goes, “what the hell is Man Repeller?”… I walk away acting cool.
The building she mentioned has a code lock situation going on (we don’t have that in Pakistan- maybe we should though)- end of the journalistic swag. I record some insta stories tagging Haley but nope- no luck.
Sister says look, it’s a Monday- they must be in office- and must get out at some point close to 6 pm, right? It was 5 pm by now. So she is like what the heck, why can’t we just sit outside and wait. So that’s what we do. Until, I see an old lady open the door and I follow! I am pretty sure that’s not entirely legal or polite, but …
3- The heart wants what it wants.
I go to the second floor, my sister following me like good backup 5 steps behind; I try guessing which one of the apartments it could be. I guessed the one with the most shoes outside. I did think the shoes weren’t exactly what the MR girls would wear, but hey- real life is not the same as Instagram, so that’s ok. Happy to have found the office- I pay my respect and tip toe away.
There we are- having realized our dream – we sit outside and share a celebratory latte when suddenly, I notice this girl getting ice tea or was it bubble tea- I know it was green for sure), from the store right across us.
I knew who it was! It was Ashley Hamilton! The Social Media Editor at MR!
4- Nothing goes to waste. Not even joblessness and stalking and knowing too much about people you don’t know. Really. All learning is useful learning.
“Hi, you work at MR don’t you?”
Me: “Oh ok… yes ok, ofcourse you work there, I am sorry I am nervous but that’s because we have been waiting to meet someone from MR for an hour and a half now, and here you are… We are big fans… of Leandra, Haley, all of you…”
Ashley: “Oh cool, why didn’t you ring the bell, you should’ve come up?”
Me: “We wanted to, we couldn’t find your office. Could we, now, we will only take five minutes?”
Ashley: “Sure. Give me a minute, let me check and I will get back!”
Walks in from a door, right next to the building we were exploring.
5- Sometimes you will get really close to what you are looking for, really awfully close, and still not find it because you were looking in the wrong place. There’s only one way of knowing that. In retrospect. As long as you tried buddy, as long as you tried.
Another 30 minutes go by, during which we fix our hair, refresh lipstick, we discuss what we will say, who will take photos, get angry at ourselves for not bringing presents… wonder what’s taking her that long- sister thinks she must’ve just vanished thinking mmm freaks, I am more hopeful, “they must have a meeting or shoot to wrap, ofcourse she will come back…”
Suddenly“Leandra…” I am like what, my sister, almost out of breath and choking on it, saying “Leandra, Marya, Leandra…”
I turn around, I see the fastest moving human being I have seen in my entire life, with the longest leanest legs I have ever seen, walking away. I know this person, it is Leandra Medine.
“Go run after her”…
Me: “What? Are you crazy? What? No…”
Amber grabs my bag and goes, run… Go ….
Me: “But what will I say and she’s too far…….”
And I am running!
6- Sometimes the window of opportunity is literally this small- the second before Leandra took the turn and I wouldn’t know where she went- literally that second is when I decided, or my body did, I don’t know- to run! When confused about whether or not you should run after what you have waited for, for long, run. Always.
I had to sprint. I was 500 metres behind her, in SOHO, at 6 pm. I ran, across red lights and swarms of people, trying to catch her, with absolute zero idea about what I would say or achieve out of this. By now I was pretty close, but she was on the phone and I didn’t want to interrupt.
I wondered what I should do when it seemed like she might be getting on a bus, and I called out, I called out her name from 10 feet away- which seemed weird- I mean who the hell says Leandra … or Ellen or say Beyonce to a real person?
She looked so confused, almost freaked out. I wanted to apologize but first I had to introduce myself. I was out of breath, had that yellow shawl on (refer to insta stories)- really wished I was dressed better but this was it.
7- Even when you feel like you aren’t ready, when it is there, infront of you, go for it. You are ready. You just don’t know it.
“Hi, sorry this might seem weird, but my name is Marya, I am from Pakistan, me and my sister (who is jogging towards us from 20 feet away at this point)- are big fans of you. She runs a popular fashion blog, I am a writer and filmmaker”…
Awkward pause and she still has no idea what the hell is happening here.
“MMM so we just wanted to say hello…”
Leandra says a polite hello, does a quick introduction, says it’s very nice to meet us, but that she can’t stay longer because her children need to be fed. We obviously understand, I ask her if we could get a photo with her though, she accepts, we get our photos and there it is. It’s done!
8- Having priorities is the single most important thing I learned that day- she was walking that fast, and didn’t stay on to have a longer chat, because she had her priorities set out clearly. Not in an “ofcourse- she’s a mother, what do you expect?” kinda way, but more like, boss lady, literally leaving work and everything else at 6 pm, tunnel vision style, because it is time to fulfill another duty, in another role.
Sure I wish she could’ve spoken longer, but in retrospect, I understand. I respect her more.
9- Chase ideas- look up to people- and know how to separate the two. MR- the friend who is always there- who I choose to spend whatever amount of time I want to with- is not the same as the people who run it. I love those people just as much, but it is important to have that separation in my head, for this relationship to remain healthy.
10- Lean legs and walking speed might have a directly proportional relationship. It is highly probable.