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?