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  • I found Carol sitting at a lightrail stop, pages deep in a word search book. She smiled and nodded at me right away, with a striking air of sincerity and straightforwardness about her. When I asked if I could take her photo, she was less hesitant than most. "Why not?" she asked. The majority of people I meet nowadays are 20-somethings inextricably ensnared in the world of impressive resumes and constant networking, so I appreciated how Carol seemed so simply comfortable being herself.

    She was on her way back home from Hayden Library, where she used the computers to go on the internet. She said she often takes public transit back and forth, and usually listens to her iPod to pass the time. But recently, she had a lightrail ride that stood out.

    "I saw my oldest son on the lightrail," she said. "About two weeks ago, I was sitting right in the front and he was in the back, talking to some girls. And he noticed me and he came up to me and was like, 'Mom!' I hadn't seen him in two years, so that was really cool," she said. "It makes me sad to be without my children."

    Carol has four children and five grandchildren, but she said she only sees one of her kids on a regular basis. However, the absence of children has brought opportunity with it.

    "My goal is to be a fashion designer," she told me. "It's been a longtime goal of mine, but kids are gone and I'm on my own; I can pursue it now." She's studying fashion design at MCC, strengthening the talent she says she's had since she was just 13. "I designed my own clothes, and when I realized other people liked the designs that I made, it made me even more excited to do it," she said.

    Aside from seeing her kids and studying fashion design, what else makes Carol happy?

    "Meeting different people and putting a smile on someone's face," she said. "It makes me feel good. You should learn something new every day, and you can learn from anyone or anything."
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