I almost became a beautician.
For many of my friends this will come as quite the surprise, because for the last twenty years they’ve known me only to be a lawyer. I graduated first in my class in law school, have worked in two very well-respected law firms, and have been blessed to have handled some pretty sophisticated cases in my career. My friends must think that being a lawyer was surely what I always wanted to be.
But neither was being a beautician.
It was something else. On April 12, 1981, the Space Shuttle Columbia launched into orbit for the first time, beginning a new era in space exploration. I was nine-and-a-half years old, and whatever it was I had wanted to be before then, forget it. I wanted only to be one thing.
I wanted to be an astronaut.
In the years that followed I was obsessed with all things space. I asked for a telescope for Christmas, and Santa delivered. I built and launched dozens of model rockets. I collected whatever NASA memorabilia that I could afford. I wrote the astronauts. Bob Crippen, the pilot for that first shuttle mission, sent me an autographed picture. So did Sally Ride. I even went to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.
In the spring of 1986, my eighth-grade year was drawing to a close, and one of my few remaining tasks was to fill out the schedule for my freshman year in high school. After circling the required courses, I had room for just one elective. Imagine my great joy, then, when I saw a course that so perfectly suited my interests. One that would bring me closer to understanding and exploring that final frontier. I happily finished the form and took it home for my mother to approve.
Only she didn’t.
To be fair, she didn’t quite disapprove either. She instead studied the form carefully, occasionally looking up at me with a curious, and at times concerned, face. She did this again and again. And again.
Eventually, I had to break the silence.
“What?” I asked, quite put off that this was taking so long.
“Joshua,” she said, “what exactly do you think cosmetology is?”