Tyler & I always like to try to find little adventures to go on, whether we are in his neck of the woods (Columbia, SC), or mine (Greenville, SC). This past week, it was my turn to visit Columbia, and we decided to have a mini-adventure at Riverfront Park.
Nestled near downtown Columbia, Riverfront Park is actually a really beautiful and scenic area that feels completely removed from city life. It is perfect if you want to get active, sightsee, or do both. Their website boasts that they have 167 acres of land to enjoy, and there is definitely a lot of space to spread out and do yo thang. We passed all walks of life on our journey through the park, from runners to dog walkers to businesspeople enjoying a nice place to take a break outdoors. I’m not particularly an outdoors kinda gal myself, but I appreciate that the park has done a wonderful job at making the walking trails lively, accessible, and easy to navigate. I also loved that they had mile markers set up throughout the park, so you knew how far you had gone, if you liked to keep track of that type of thing. Oh, and doggie water fountains. That was actually my favorite part. Team Riverfront Park, friends of dogs everywhere!
Here are some pictures from our afternoon for you to enjoy. We found an old schoolhouse, the abandoned pump house that previously powered the nearby dam, and the most beautiful patch of Black-eyed Susan’s growing happily in the sun. It was a lovely day, and when Columbia decides to not be as oppressively hot and horrifying outdoors, I’d love to go back.
(dress worn by Lara Flynn Boyle in the movie Land of the Blind)
Last month, Tyler & I went for our second visit to the Columbia Museum of Art in, you guessed it, Columbia! Man oh man, what a gorgeous place with so much to offer. Seriously – you’ve absolutely got to check it out.
The first time we visited was in November of last year, and I gotta give major props to them – for a pretty quick return trip, there were already a lot of new and exciting things to see and explore that had popped up in just that short amount of time.
Most new & notable: the CUT! Costumes & the Cinema exhibit, which was expansive and luscious and overwhelming and absolutely more beautiful than you could believe. The artistry that goes into costuming for theatre and cinema has long since been an interest of mine, and to get to see these exquisite works of art virtually in my own backyard was a true gift. Fortunately they did let us take photos, so I took some to share with all of you! If I get some of the movies or actors/actresses wrong, please correct me – I am only one fool who forgot to take notes.
I guess I should explain, for starters, why I felt like it was time to find a new space to begin with. I have been writing as Minxual/at Minxual for nearly six years now, but recently have made the decision to shut that site down and move on to bigger and brighter things.
Nothing really happened that triggered this move. There was no big scandal or need to flee from my former internet home. I guess the long and pretty boring short of it is that I just sort of outgrew Minxual and what it represented to me. With Minxual, there became a sort of underlying dread, or maybe it could even be classified as a fear, that I felt when it came to producing content. There was no fun in it anymore. I felt a lot like I was being controlled by a space that was supposed to be a space that I was in control of. I felt typecast and stereotyped (completely by myself), and could not separate myself from a feeling of failure or disenchantment that came every time I posted.
There was also just the want to shed skins, to move away from past lives. The person you are at 23 and the person you are at 29 are complete and total strangers to one another, and that became more and more apparent whenever I would log in to post something. It is also important to mention that at its origin, Minxual was a retaliation blog. I had my little wings crushed by a boy who treated me badly all those years ago, and Minxual was my soapbox, my way of harnessing that pain and shame and trying to make a revolution out of being scorned. Like anything that is born from a place of malice or bitterness, it’ll never really get off the ground, and it will never really do anything much besides fester. Not to say that I feel that I’ve spent the past six years festering at Minxual- I am and will always continue to be really, really proud of the work that I did there, and proud of the fact that I tried to turn something painful and ugly into something bigger and better – but I’m definitely not the same girl that I was back then, nor do I want to be. I had a lot of fun for a lot of years being a minx, and a minx I shall always be at heart – but the past is in the past. She is in the past.
What I really craved, at the end of the day, was just a blank canvas. No expectations. No forced deadlines. No constant want to apologize if what I posted was sad instead of funny or felt unimpressive. Just my own space for me to share whatever I want, whenever I want to, for whomever might be passing through. Read it, don’t read it, I don’t care. I’m posting for me. And I’m really, really excited.
Lastly – the name change?
Well, that’s pretty easy, of course. Ashley in Wonderland is a spin on a few different things – my love of whimsy, my love of Disney, and my fascination with the concept of “Wonderland” itself.
The thing that I’ve always found really interesting, about the concept of Wonderland, is how much and how little it can be at the same time – somehow both beautiful and sinister, a lot like life is.
I remember being a kid and seeing the Disney film and wanting to go there SO badly – but as an adult, you look at that movie and you see it all completely differently. Wonderland is beautiful, but terrifying. Fantastic, but dangerous. And that’s sort of how my life feels right now. Everything is so very exploratory, and I think Wonderland is just the place to do some really good investigative work about who I am as a person and what the world around me means. Because some days, my wonderland is just as it sounds – the beautiful reality of every day life, when things are so bright and so intense that everything feels just like a dream that you don’t want to wake up from. And at other times, my wonderland is a warped and twisted creature, a living, breathing, all-consuming thing – and those times are just as important to acknowledge.