Thursday, July 15, 2010

Journal Entry # 1: by Harlow Jane Cassidy



I'm a fashion designer--Harlow Cassidy Designs--so of course I have a LookBook to showcase my designs.

But this...this is my journal and it's for me. I have to put down on the page just how I landed back in Bliss, Texas so I'm writing it here, but it's too good a story to keep to myself, so if anyone happens to find this entry and read it, I hope they see that Bliss is where my heart is.

This is how it started.

My great-grandmother, a feisty firecracker of a women named Loretta Mae Cassidy, had a way of getting just what she wanted. Whether it was a copy of the Sunday newspaper delivered right to her doorstep, a sneak preview of the newest arrivals at the big chain craft and fabric store in the neighboring town, or me, back in Bliss, Texas, you could lay money down that if she wanted it, it would happen...one way or another.

I always used to say, what Loretta Mae wanted, Loretta Mae got. The fact that she’d passed on six months ago hadn’t changed that. If you asked anyone in Bliss if they felt it was strange that Loretta Mae was still getting what she wanted, even though she’d gone to a better place, they’d say, “Heck no, that ain’t strange at all. You’re talkin’ ‘bout Loretta Mae. She’s a Cassidy, and those Cassidy women have always been a little touched, if you know what I mean.” And then there’d be a not-so-subtle wink because, of course, everyone in Bliss knew that every woman from the Cassidy family tree was, well, not insane like being ‘touched’ implies (the old timers in Bliss who kept this story alive tended to exaggerate), but just a bit...charmed.

We all had small ‘gifts’ that are, shall we say, inexplicable. But we’d all worked hard to stay on the down low. We didn’t want our own contemporary Texas version of the Salem Witch Trials.

I have always been the exception to the rule as I don’t know what my gift is. Like every Cassidy from the beginning of time--or the beginning of Texas--whichever came first--Loretta Mae, who I’d always called Meemaw, was born and raised in Bliss. And she’d hated that I’d left. “Mark my words, Harlow Jane Cassidy. You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the girl. What’s in Los Angeles that’s not in Bliss?” she asked when I announced that I was moving to California.

“A college with a degree in fashion design,” I said.

I saw the skepticism in her liquid blue eyes which were the mirror image of my own, but she kept quiet.


“What’s in New York that’s not in Bliss?” she asked after I’d left L.A. and moved into a rundown walkup in Manhattan, but her eyes had turned cloudy and she looked puzzled, as if her world had been shaken. “You’re chasing something you already have,” she added, as if I were Dorothy and only had to click my heels together three times to realize I already had the success of Stella McCartney.

She hadn’t gotten what she’d wanted then--me, back in Bliss--but guess what? I'm back now. She'd passed, and I'd inherited her old farmhouse just off the square at 2112 Mockingbird Lane. It hadn't been in my long term plan, but Meemaw always said the Cassidy women were best when they rolled with the punches.

The farmhouse looked different with my things added to what I’d kept of Meemaw’s. I lived on one side of the house and I’d turned the other half into my dressmaking studio and boutique. Buttons & Bows. The name was a tribute to Loretta Mae. Her collection of old buttons, bows, and ribbon took up an huge section of the attic. I’d spent a whole day marveling at the sheer volume of the collection, ignoring the rest of the attic, the one area of the house I hadn’t tackled. It stretched nearly the entire length of the house and was filled with a century’s worth of stuff. The discarded furniture and boxes could wait, but the antique buttons and ribbon, cording and lace?
They could not. Buttons & Bows may be a tribute to Loretta Mae, but I'm as obsessed with accessories as she ever was. Rifling through the lot would take me days. Weeks. A hell's bells, it'd probably take me months. But for now, I don't want to disturb them.

I wonder if it's just me. Do other people feel this way? Like disturbing something that belonged to someone who has passed on (even though I sometimes think I feel her in the house) is disrespectful?

~Harlow

~twitter.com/HarlowCassidy





26 comments:

  1. Harlow, that's a really tough job--going through someone's things after they pass away. And you're right--it seems really invasive and disrespectful.

    I'd say to give yourself some time, if you've got it. If it doesn't feel right to go through the attic right now, I'd leave it for a while. :)

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  2. I say dump it all!!! See what ghosts you stir up.

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  3. Harlow, what you're feeling is normal. Give it time and when the time is right, you'll be able to go through the things. As you go through them, you'll never know what you might find or finds you. :)

    Mason
    Thoughts in Progress

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  4. What a treasure trove, Harlow! Any time you want the company of someone who will appreciate the collection as much as you do, call me. I'll close my notions shop - also called Buttons and Bows, aren't we both clever? - in Threadville and come down and admire it all with you. We can carefully pack it up the way your grandma had it. She'd have been pleased.

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  5. Hi Harlow,

    I would wait until you're ready to go through the items in the attic. I bet you'll find more treasures up there that can be used in your new business.

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  6. Harlow, the attic is one of those places that can become a yummy place of comfort. Take a book, read to yourself in the comfort of your gram's things. Give everything a little time.
    ~Avery

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  7. I think you should start in right away as a way of keeping Meemaw alive for you and learning more about her and your family. You never know what you might find. I discovered that myself...

    Just my two cents.
    Grace
    (Your treasure trove sounds delightful!)

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  8. Hi Harlow,

    I don't know if it was a feeling of disrespect or just a being overwhelmed with the amount of stuff, but I'm still going through the house I inherited, and it's been going on three years since I moved in. Take your time, settle in, and enjoye the process.
    Skye

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  9. Hi Harlow, nice to meet you.
    I think you should just take your time. You'll know when you are ready.

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  10. Edna, really? Your notions shop is called Buttons & Bow? Wow, great minds... ;) Maybe I'll have to think and rename my shop before I have a grand opening!

    ~ Harlow

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  11. May I please come and help you go through that wonderful TREASURE, please, please, please?? I just love stuff like that, plus the fact that it was your great-grandmother's just makes it even more special. I love history, archealogy, and genealogy, so things like that are so much fun! You'll have to let us know what you discover!

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  12. Good idea, Avery. I may just take a book up there. Dust off the window seat and settle in. It as Meemaw's favorite place in the house. Next to the big ol' farm kitchen, that is.

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  13. Sure will, signlady. I'll be journaling about it a lot! Wish you could come help.

    Anybody with new ideas for my custom dressmaking boutique, send them my way. Can't have two Buttons & Bows!

    ~Harlow

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  14. Mason, you're right. Time will make it easier.

    Tonya, you're a go-getter!

    ~Harlow

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  15. I can't blame you, Harlow. I still have trunks and boxes that belonged to my ex-husband's Aunt Faye. They're tucked away, and I know I should go through them, but I haven't had the heart or the time. Soon. Very soon . . .

    ~ Sophie
    Domestic Diva Mysteries

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  16. Harlow - You know, Bliss and Dalliance are within spittin' distance of each other. If you ever want a hand, just holler. :)

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  17. I have GOT to get this book!!!!

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  18. Yes, Shel, you do! It'll be out fall 2011!

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  19. Tally! You're right! I will give a holler!

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  20. Harlow -- like others said, take your time. You'll know when it's right . . .

    Paige

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  21. Harlow,
    Take your time, but go through the stuff. Your grandmother obviously wanted you to. Otherwise, she'd have cleaned it out for you. :-)

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  22. Dear Harlow,

    Thanks for sharing your journal! Am I the only one who sees that Meemaw left something very special in that attic for you? Suck it up, roll up your sleeves, and dig in, girl! Your destiny awaits...

    Tracy Ward

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  23. Tracy, you may be right! Will do just what you said.

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  24. Harlow, your a kick! Tears came to my eyes over the buttons & bows. I have a box of my grandmother's collection of buttons & bows, that I just can't part with. You guessed it, its in the attic. It reminded me so much of her, today I think I'll take it down and rummage through it, just for the heck of it.

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  25. love, love, love Harlow and especially her grandmother. I can so relate!

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