She walks up to my door with zero makeup on, wearing a white t-shirt and bright red Keds. Immediately, my own makeup that I’d rushed to apply before eating a quick breakfast and prepping for the shoot seemed futile. Now I wanted to take it off. Her bright-blue eyes glimmer as I open the door, and the natural highlights of her hair make me long for the beach. We sit down at my kitchen table and begin.
Emy: “What is your name?”
Sydney: “My name is Sydney Cochran.”
Emy: “Tell us a bit about you.”
Sydney: “Well, let’s see. I go to Northern Virginia Community College and I am studying interior design right now, so that’s really fun. I’m really into art and design. My favorite fruit is pineapple! I’m into the whole tropical feel. I like Florida. I go there every summer. So, since I love Florida…I guess I am a very relaxed person. Very chill. I love the beach. I usually go on the West Coast of Florida because I love the Gulf of Mexico, the water’s a lot clearer there. I have family there, too. So, we try to visit them and we stay in a beach house. My favorite color is blue-green, probably because of the water. I love that blue and green color. And, of course, I love the summer. In my free time I like to hang with my friends. Sometimes I play the piano, or at least I try to. My favorite flowers are orchids. I love orchids because they’re very tropical. Let’s see, I also love palm trees. Anything with palm trees! If there’s a shirt with a palm tree on it I will probably buy it, or pineapples! If there’s a pineapple phone case I’ll probably buy it, I love those things. Hmm, I love being outside and just going on a hike, or just going for a walk.”
Emy: “How did you discover your love for the beach?”
Sydney: “Oooh, yeah. When I was a baby, either three or four was my first trip to Florida and ever since we’ve been going there. My dad was actually a Florida boy, he lived there ever since he was little. He just taught me, and I kind of just followed his ways of loving the beach. He showed me the beautiful side of Florida. That’s why I said I love the Gulf Coast, because it’s a lot warmer and that’s where he lived. So, it’s just a very relaxing place for me to go and get away from everything, and that’s why I love it.”
Emy: “Tell us about your family a little bit.”
Sydney: “Well, my brother goes to VCU and he’s an art major. My whole family is just into art. We have pictures all over our house. It’s a very, very eclectic house! And, my mom is pretty much like me. She loves to decorate, she’s very calm, friendly, and kind. She’s a very kind person. Let’s see. We like to go shopping together, wherever it is we like to have that girl time. It’s been mostly me and my mom together since my brother went to college, it’s just been us, so we like to spend that time together. And my dad, who actually lives in Ashburn, I actually spend a lot more time with now because I go to school over there. So, I live there, too, but I try to go to my mom’s as much as I can. She lives in Berryville. Let’s see, pets! I have three dogs, two dogs at my dad’s. I have two chocolate labs and it’s hard for me to tell which one’s which because they’re basically twins, they’re adorable! I have a cat over at my dad’s, too. Her name is Zoe. I love cats. She’s adorable, she’s like the fluffiest little thing. She’s so soft. Then, at my mom’s I have one dog who is evil. She’s so evil, but I’ve had her since I was…six? Seven? So, she’s always been in the family, so we accept her. Yeah, I’ve lived in Berryville since I was in 5th grade. It’s been a good home. I like that small town feel, but I also like urban areas, too. I like the best of both worlds.”
Emy: “What are the little things you look forward to in your day?”
Sydney: “I guess being around people, it’s pretty simple, I’m a people person. Let’s see. Umm, I’m not sure what else.”
Emy: “Are you a coffee person, maybe iced chai kind of person? Do you like candles?”
Sydney: “Okay, this is going to sound weird, but I’m a water person. I just like water, yeah I don’t drink soda. I mean, I work at the movie theater. Everybody gets soda there, these big, big cups of it, and I don’t know what that tastes like. Yeah, I work at the movie theater and I actually really like it. I’ve met a lot of really great people there. It’s nice because you don’t just work with all the same people, there are a lot of different people who come and go. And you’re always doing different jobs. You never stick to just the same thing. So, it’s a good first job.”
Emy: “What are some other every day pleasures, besides water?”
Sydney: “Well, I do like candles actually. I like the way they smell. It’s a good vibe. It’s a nice relaxing feel. I like autumn smells, even though it’s summer time. I like the cinnamon smell. I like re-doing my room, too. I like re-decorating, finding new things to put in my room, moving things around, I change things up a lot. Oh, I clean. I can’t work in a space if it’s not clean. I can’t deal with clutter, so I enjoy cleaning.”
Emy: “Why do you love cleaning, decorating, and creating a beautiful space?”
Sydney: “Probably from my mom because she loves to decorate the house, as well. But for me, if I’m not in a good atmosphere I get sad, or upset, and if I’m in a good atmosphere and I like the way things look, the people and the area, I feel a lot better. Atmosphere is definitely important to me.”
Emy: “So, it makes a lot of sense then why you chose to leave Newport News.”
I am referring to an earlier conversation where Sydney explained that she’d been going to a college in Newport News, but left because it didn’t quite feel right, which now makes sense, seeing as atmosphere and good people are such important components of her life.
Sydney: “I’m the type of person where if I don’t feel like something is right for me, why wait? Why wait when you can just move on? I know a lot of people who’ve stayed at a college they didn’t like, and I’m like, ‘Just leave, it’s not that hard!’ They might be scared, though, of change, but I’m really not. I’m not scared of change if it’s going to make things better.”
Emy: “What are your goals and ambitions?”
Sydney: “I might be a little bit broad. I just want to have a good family and supportive people in my life throughout my life. I want to always be surrounded by people who make me happy, and do something that makes me happy. I’m still figuring out what my niche is. I enjoy trying different things, but I do think that art is definitely going to be in the picture. Either interior design, or something that makes me want to keep going and keep doing it. I want to travel to Thailand, or something. Somewhere far away, possibly in Asia.”
Emy: “Why Asia?”
Sydney: “I feel like it’s just very, very different, I like the whole relaxed, yoga type of atmosphere, and it’s very, very green over there. I’d like to live by the water. I probably want to move somewhere South. I want a one-floor house, nothing big. I’m not into big things.”
Emy: “Where would you like to see yourself in five years?”
Sydney: “I’d like to see myself in a job, have a family. I don’t know about in five years, that might be too soon. I want to have a stable job, have a house, or an apartment. Have a boyfriend, maybe, and an animal, a pet. I want to be doing something design-based, something creative, probably in an urban area.”
Emy: “What’s your dream vacation?”
Sydney: “I’d go anywhere from the Colorado mountains to the Caribbean, either one! Actually, I would probably say somewhere down on the Caribbean. I’ve never been there and the water is beautiful. I love the beach, of course, so I feel like the Caribbean is cleaner, the water is clearer, and it just seems like paradise to me when I see the pictures. Like, this is the epitome of paradise right here!”
Emy: “Who are the most influential people in your life?”
Sydney: “Well I’m definitely going to say the women in my life, my mom and my grandma. I look up to them, I’ve always looked up to their ways. They’re such kind, strong women. They are both independent and I’ve always looked up to that. They’re both hard workers. My mom is a very hard worker. She just opened up a new business, so she’s an entrepreneur now. Her company’s called Real World Basics. You should check it out if you can!”
She giggles a little bit after her mini sales pitch, then goes on to describe her mother’s business with more passion and excitement. We’ve struck a cord. Up until now her answers have been calm, even, and concise. Now, talking about her mother she is bright-eyed and smiley, as though this seemingly strong, independent woman was here in the room with her…and maybe she is, in a way. Sydney has the same quiet strength she’s just described. She is loving, kind, careful, thoughtful. Everything she’s described as dear to her resembles her personality; the beach, sweet smells, beautiful spaces. I’m starting to “feel her heart beat” so to speak. It’s been like a slow tide, but now as she describes her mother, it’s like a proud rolling wave, building up to crash on the shore of an obviously invested heart.
Sydney: “So, yeah. I’m just really, really proud of her for that.”
Emy: “So, how have your mom and your grandma influenced your life?”
Sydney: “They’ve just always been there for me. Like, when I left Newport News I was just crying and some parents would just want you to stay there, you know. I was just shocked that my mom accepted my decision, she just accepted everything. I’m sorry, I’m getting a little emotional. So, I was talking to her on the phone and she accepted everything. She was so, so accepting. She said, ‘do whatever you feel like is right for you’ and it was just all I needed to hear. I’m just so happy and so blessed by that, that she’s accepting of whatever. It’s the same with my dad, too.”
She wipes away heartfelt tears after describing those she loves most.
Emy: “What else should we know about you?”
Sydney: “I don’t leave people. I’m a very loyal person and I want to make things work with people in a relationship, or a friendship. I’m the type of person who likes to talk things out with people. I’m not just going to hide things and ball everything up inside. I’m always going to try to make things work in a kind, caring way. So, I like long-lasting relationships. I like close best friends. I’m not looking for tons of people to be friends with. I don’t really hide anything. I like to express my feelings, and I care a lot about other people’s feelings. I don’t know if they know that, but I do. It makes things easier if you’re kind and friendly. I don’t hold grudges. I’m really excited for the future. Oh, I love cookie dough! Anything from cookie dough ice cream, to cookies. I love my mom’s homemade lasagna. Oh, I told you I want to go to Thailand, speaking of Thailand, I love Thai food. Pad thai with chicken, the sweet noodles, and tea, it’s just amazing! I love peanut butter and crackers. My dad thinks I’m crazy because I eat peanut butter every day when I’m there. I always stick to one thing when I go to restaurants. I need to open up my horizons a little bit because I always stick to one thing! I like white clothes, airy, flowy, beachy. I like salmon, pinky-orange colors, coral, and turquoise, very paradise-colored, tropical style. My style for design does sort of match my style for clothing. I’m not into a lot of makeup either. I don’t really like wearing a lot of makeup.”
We are finished and she says,
“Wow, that’s like yoga with words!”
She’s calm, excited, ready for change, but content with the same. She reminds me of this quote from an unknown author:
“At the beach, life is different. Time doesn’t move hour to hour, but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides and follow the sun.”
This coral princess moves with joy, plans with purpose, and laughs with authenticity.
Introducing, a truly beach-bound soul, Sydney Cochran.