April 22nd, 2012

While I Was Sleeping

danny_loft

Dear friends:

Two weeks ago, I had my wisdom teeth removed, and I’ve been in recovery ever since. Witty plays on the notion of wisdom will most likely ensue, but for now, I’ll just leave you with this little bit that happened while I was out. My ever-talented brother caught some national attention when Apartment Therapy featured his LA loft. We love the space, love the site, and love the positive feedback. Plus, we all got more than a little misty-eyed checking out the vintage Two Elle featured on his own site, www.daniellowe.com.

Posted at 8:03 pm by rachel in: Post-Wonderland

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April 8th, 2012

The Loose Ends Are the Tightest

roo_love_lingers

After a week in LA and a week of Adam’s Spring Break, this week Tweed Bunny and I started to unpack. Our belongings were all neatly housed in cardboard and spread throughout the abandoned home bedrooms of Danny and Mikey, but slowly they must find a way out of the box and into a different organizational structure. Our first order of business was to build an office in Mikey’s room.

Unlike packing, the unpacking process has very few surprises. While packing, for instance, I discovered that I own enough pens (and markers/crayons?) to last me a lifetime. If you ever spot me purchasing a pen or highlighter or file folder, please intervene. I also found forgotten treasures that I chose NOT to discard in the packing process. There was a first generation “small” pink ipod and both a DVD and VHS copy of The Last Unicorn. Those made it into the cardboard.

With these finds unearthed, I figured the unpacking process would be boring. I put the books from the “more likely to read” box on the shelf, I set up all the Missoni/Liberty for Target file boxes, and I placed the printer/copier on a pile of boxes deemed less important (#makeshift #notglam). And because life seems to go on even after you leave Wonderland, I got to work……until I had to make a photocopy.

There it was: the surprise, the reminder that as hard as you try to pack life away in a box, it’ll still sneak back in.

Nearly a year ago, as I was preparing for the wedding of my little Amanda (known as Mandi Roo in most parts of this website), I designed shirts (and an entire lingerie line) for her, Ryan, and all the bridesmaids featuring this drawing from one of their engagement photos. Apparently, the sketch remained in the copier. Its image had traveled to Chattanooga for the wedding, to Chicago with Amanda & Ryan, and now home with me to Arizona. It wasn’t in its place, tucked into a box of memories; it was right there, staring at me while I tried to cancel our store ASCAP account.

I had thought that starting a new life would involve a lot of bells and whistles. There would be giant going away parties and tearful goodbyes. There would be parades in my honor and video montages capturing the moments meant to cherish. But there weren’t. It happened quietly and quickly. There were a couple text messages and more than a few “where are you?” Facebook wall posts. My Nashville life and all that came with it took nearly 7 years to build, and then within a week the condo was sold, the movers had come, and Tweed Bunny was procured as the in-flight companion. It was over.

Over……but I never said goodbye. I left it all open and unanswered. I didn’t know where I was going, so I didn’t know how to say that I was going at all. With the exception of the necessary business or financial matters, everything was left as  a loose end. Only little Becca got an actual goodbye hug, but if it’s all the same, I’d like to consider that more loose than final. So, maybe, just maybe, that’s why I didn’t tie up the loose ends. I wanted to keep them free and untied. I wanted the questions to remain unanswered and alive. I knew that time and distance mean very little today; Roo & Ryan with their balloons are just as present today as they were a year ago, literally. Most things, for me, are too important to pack away in cardboard. I like to hold on tight.

And speaking of the family that I wouldn’t say goodbye to, it’s Passover, which makes me miss Jenny, David, Sydney, and Zoe (It’s family order, Zoe; I know you want to be first!). They’ve been my Passover buddies for years, and I know that if this were a year ago, they’d be popping in on their way to Whole Foods today. I’m sorry I never got to sit at your seder table. Can I come to the bat-mitzvah instead?

Posted at 5:05 pm by rachel in: Post-Wonderland

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April 7th, 2012

Monkey Business

hava_java

My love affair with Frothy Monkey is well-documented. Together we made a home on 12South, and its cozy walls housed nearly every would-be-employee interview (and a couple would-be-employees themselves). Frothy staff watched me open my store, move my store, and close my store. And it wasn’t just their latte art that made all of those things possible. But here is the truth that I now must reveal: Frothy, you were not my first.

Yes, it’s true that while you’ll forever hold a rather significant piece of my heart, others came before you. I wrote a good chunk of the first version of my novel at the Starbucks at 47th & 9th in Manhattan. And I experienced the collegiate drama that fueled that first version at Willoughby’s in New Haven. But Hava Java in Phoenix is truly where the story began.

I first learned of Hava Java at the beginning of junior year in high school. I hadn’t started a major paper due the next day (a familiar scenario, so I cannot explain the panic). My friend Julie told me of this place at 32nd & Camelback where you could get something that would keep you awake all night. In the middle of Latin class, she passed me a scrap of paper with 3 words that would change my life: iced raspberry mocha.

Hava Java was perhaps my first wonderland. It was my escape, it was my reinvented reality, and it was my reunion spot. It was where I spent as many free moments as I could in high school. It was where I would take an elementary version of Adam for chess lessons. It was where I set up a tutoring business during my many leaves of absence from college. It was always the first stop post-airport. And now it seems the prodigal daughter has returned. I’ve traded in my Monkey for the point of origin. The trade, however, is bittersweet.

The coffeeshop, I’m coming to observe, is something of a neo-rehab. It’s a place where people of all age groups, backgrounds, status, and occupation can come together (and let’s not ignore the fact that they’re brought together by addiction). Relationships form in unlikely places, and secrets surface with greater agility. Some stay in this neo-rehab for longer than others, and some find a need to return after being away. For the sake of the metaphor, we’ll protect anonymity, but suffice it to say that my return has me rethinking the book I’m writing and itching to write about the “patients” I’ve found back in “rehab.”

One thing, however, remains true: there’s no rehabilitation like a little Monkey love. Sometimes settling into your new home makes you remember your old one even more fondly. It breaks my heart to look over at the espresso machine and not see Dylan, and Drew has been present for every quasi-date I’ve experienced in the past 2 years (not that there were many, but still). I even downloaded the Black Keys, because that’s what Frothy tweeted that they were listening to right now.

So, yes, I am newly rehabilitated, but here’s the lingering message to my dearest Monkey: I never said goodbye to you. That was intentional. Some goodbyes are too hard to say. I’ll just look forward to the next time we say hello.

Posted at 10:23 pm by rachel in: Post-Wonderland

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April 3rd, 2012

The Green Mile

greentweed

Tweed Bunny and I are embracing the quotidian. We are the neo-Housewives of Scottsdale, Arizona. OK, truth: we’re not that glamorous. We are 2 fragile little souls who ventured north for the weekend to Prescott, Arizona for some R & R with my father. Saturday night dinner plans immediately gave way to more rest than reverie, however, when our tire fell flat. AAA to the rescue in the morning, and we were back on the road to Phoenix on Sunday so that we’d be local to face the trials of a Monday.

With both my mother and father on separate trips out of town, Tweed Bunny and neo-Dorothy were left to their own devices to figure out a way back onto that Yellow Brick Road. iPhone found me a Discount Tire with a Starbucks across the street. I packed my bags and began the journey. And here I sit. Green straw, green pen, yellow bricks awaiting.

These may seem like simple challenges, but to a toy bunny and a recovering superhero/shopgirl, they are uncharted. I hit the little button so that I could cross the street, I found an outdoor table in the perfect 72 degree weather, I ordered my green-strawed, suburban iced americano, and I said, “This is life now. This is the new wonderland. This is how the next adventure starts….with a flat tire.”

Posted at 6:33 pm by rachel in: Post-Wonderland

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April 2nd, 2012

Bouncing Back

TweedPlusNeon

Dear friends:

Mr. Carroll did not write a guidebook for this one, so I suppose from here on in, I shoot without a script. [I'm sorry for that; littlest brother arrived home on RISD spring break far more musical theatre savvy than I remembered him, and the effect lingers. Hi, Adam.]

Like Alice, and really all reckless, scrappy fairy-tale girls, I triumphed over the Queen and climbed my way out of Wonderland. For a moment thereafter, I napped, and when I awoke, I found myself in unfamiliar territory. The flowers were no longer teaching me lessons, colorful characters were no longer stopping by for tea parties, and even the caterpillar had stopped asking me to self-define. Wonderland was over.

In the final weeks of the store, you all asked me the same question: what next? I took it as a compliment and joked my way through the laundry list of tasks that go into closing a store. The truth that my valid list masked was that I didn’t have an answer. I knew I wanted to go west, closer to my family, but that’s as far as the plan extended. I remained fixated on the list at hand, as I often do, and continued to work, hoping that somewhere along the way another white rabbit would emerge and lead me to my next adventure.

And he did.

Tweed is one of my favorite places in Nashville. This should speak volumes about Maggie, its owner, because Tweed is a baby store, and I have no babies in my immediate life. The last time I went into Tweed (but I refused to tell Maggie that it was the last time, because I had already cried too many times in her own little wonderland), I spotted this bunny. As we all know, I’m a sucker for branding, so I obviously needed him. Plus, I knew that my flight home was looming, and, truth be told, sometimes the xanax just lacks that personal touch. I needed a buddy. So, I bought a bunny.

Tweed Bunny, as I’m now calling him, has not left my purse (the J.Crew Tillary bucket bag, sold out in neon yellow, btw). As the first step in our journey, he took me to L.A. (ok, my brother Danny did most of the driving), where we plan to make a new home for ourselves when the time is right (Did I say time? I meant  money.). We’re home in Phoenix now, but we’re ready to get back to bouncing.

Now, although I cannot fully answer your question about what is next, I know that it involves telling my story, and crawling out from my post-rabbit-hole nap to begin writing to you in the middle of the night is the obvious move. But that doesn’t mean, dear fans of the wonderland formerly known as two elle, that I intend to leave you alone at the tea party. I’m hoping to take you with me, because my first lesson in life after wonderland is that we all need a little help along the way. When I stumbled into Tweed, I needed someone to tell me that there would be another wonderland in my future, that there would be a light at the end of battling the Queen, that my storybook would have another chapter, and that, most importantly, my story was worth telling. Maggie delivered. And with her hug and well-wishes, she deposited a new friend in my bag of tricks, a friend who will keep me company when threatened (aka, airports) and keep me bouncing on when I feel like stopping.

However, while Tweed Bunny is lovely at holding my hand, he’s really quite terrible with establishing connections or picking up a bill, so here’s what: I’m hoping that you, dear friends, will send me any words of encouragmentment or advice and that if you know of anyone who would pay me to tell my story (or act it out, or sing it, or build it, or style it, or style them, or….), then you will kindly send them my way (rachel@twoelle.com). Our stories are now intertwined, so join me (and Tweed Bunny) as I begin the task of telling the tale of what happened behind that magical curtain we once called home.

And here is where the telling begins. Tweed Bunny has brought me home. I don’t know where the new home will be, but for now, he got me on a plane and took me to where it all began. So, here, as I have so many times before, in the warmth of sunshine and Mexican tile, I begin to tell the story. But, most importantly, I begin again.

Posted at 5:16 am by rachel in: Post-Wonderland

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