“She glided into the room like a mystical mermaid on the heels of her Orca army.”
This is what Taylor Graham says when she pushes open the door and enters the room. Though she doesn’t glide, she saunters. And nothing about her says “mystical mermaid.” But her black and white ensemble does resemble an army of orcas, albeit an army of very tiny orcas.
When Taylor comes into a room, she makes an entrance; she doesn’t simply arrive. And not because her appearance says, “look at me,” or she begs for attention. Her vibrant, energetic personality precedes her instead – like a lightning bolt struck the room and the electric energy left in the air has everyone’s hair standing on end.
Something about her is organic; completely untainted by the outside world.
“Unfiltered” is the word she uses.
“My dad used to say that I say what everyone else is thinking,” said Graham. “But that’s not always a good thing. You shouldn’t always say what everyone else is thinking because sometimes, the majority of the time, people aren’t thinking good things.”
She learned to be boisterous and eccentric as the youngest of three children in her fun, frequently uncivilized family.
Which makes her an almost perfect person to interview: fast-talking, excited and answering questions without being asked. Conversation topics range from how she and her now fiancé, Drew, met…
“I mentioned something about the screen protector on his phone,” she said. “It was really sexy.”
…To her love for discussion classes, the fact her “99 problems” beanie was borrowed (she’s really not a thug, she says) and the College Republicans and Democrats poster’s overuse of fonts (she’s a designer and the use of more than two fonts apparently makes her panic).
At some point, she mentions how she and her fiancé started dating, which has her giggling in a charming, reminiscent way.
While driving back from dinner Drew asked, “would anything change if we started dating?”
“No,” she responded.
A small pause followed, then Taylor asked, “did we just start dating?”
“I think so,” he said.
And then she drops a bomb, of sorts. A verbal bomb: she says something completely unexpected. “I went through being cynical all last year. But cynicism is the most disgusting thing in the world. On a person, in your attitude, it makes you disgusting,” she says. “You’re not always going to love what you’re doing but that doesn’t mean you don’t do it and do it well.”
It’s funny to hear her say that. “Cynical” is not a word one would associate with Taylor Graham. Sarcastic? Yeah. Brash? Absolutely. Slightly inappropriate? Sure. But “cynical” doesn’t come to mind. Which, if anything, shows how much she’s worked to overcome it.
“This year I’ve specifically chosen to admit when things don’t make sense. Because being an RA is a choice. Being a resident here is a choice. Being a graphic designer is a choice. These are all the choices I’ve personally made. So I’m not going to spend all of my emotion, energy and time on hating what I’ve chosen and leaching that into other people.”
With that, the mystical mermaid shrugs. She says she counts her blessings to stay positive, even when she’s in a rut. She gets to her feet; small but strong. She stands in front of the closet, takes a picture on a Polaroid and walks out, saying she loves Polaroids and she loves interviews.
“Oh,” she says, before she leaves. “And my senior project is as if Lisa Frank and Hallmark designed a line of pots and pans sold at K-Mart.”