Let's be honest with one another for a moment, shall we?: It can be easy to get caught up in the day to day hustle and bustle of things.
Often, I totally ignore the important things available to me in life and Wellington. We go from one engagement to another, without thinking about how we are getting there or what it means, never stopping to take pleasure in the thing itself, or make an effort with how we look. We save things up for special, and then somehow never use them. Life is in a permanent state of 'When I [do/have/get]...[enter random item/experience/career step here], I'll definitely [go on holiday/buy a new dress/ get a decent haircut / take myself out for dinner]. It's like we have a big square bracket on all the things we'd like to do, while we beat ourselves to a pulp, trying to please everyone else.
I was recently reminded of why it is important to make time for yourself and seek out occasions that you can take joy in. 5 years ago, I would never have. I'd occasionally make an effort but I'd just be worrying about what everyone else was thinking, and probably feel sorely disappointed if an event wasn't life changing when I'd pinned all my hopes on it being. Now I realised I feel quite differently. As peculiar as it sounds, it was all started a few weeks ago when I heard about the opening of Wellington's newest eatery, Two Grey.
"5 years ago, I would never have...I'd just be worrying about what everyone else was thinking"
I'd been alerted to the re-vamp by a little bird at the Intercontinental Hotel (which Two Grey is part of), in April - he'd snuck me in behind the back walls of the hotel. We popped out in the old space which used to be the slightly murky saloon that was Arizona. I remember Arizona from when I was a kid growing up in Wellington, when my Dad used to work upstairs above the Intercontinental (then the Park Royal), in what is now the ANZ building. It was the kind of place sweaty businessmen, drinking beer and bourbon, watching darts after a day at the office, and avoiding going home to their wives. Not really my cup of tea!
"This made me quite excited - capturing my imagination, as I envisioned myself as a somewhat more meaty and Antipodean version of Audrey Hepburn in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'"
The worksite, full of dust and hardhats, confirmed that this old tired Wellington space, becoming Two Grey, would get a total facelift. This made me quite excited - capturing my imagination, as I envisioned myself as a somewhat more meaty and Antipodean version of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. I was determined that I would wiggle my way into the opening upon seeing the launch of this new spot on the Wellington scene.
"However, I suddenly felt like at 27, I could justify pleasing myself by making a bit of a fuss of an evening, for no other reason than that I wanted to"
From that point, my overzealous mind started to plot my approach to the evening - what I would wear, how I would look. Something in my mind clicked. To anyone else, it was just another Wellington joint opening its doors to the punters. To me, it grew to be something more special. I'd decided that I'd make the night an occasion, pulling out all the stops. I had only ever really bothered to make this kind of effort with 'major events' in life, which inevitably turned out to be let downs (aka: school balls, formals, parties, New Year's Eve, date's where the guy ended up high on acid - but that's another story). However, I suddenly felt like at 27, I could justify pleasing myself by making a bit of a fuss of an evening, for no other reason than that I wanted to. I wasn't going with Matt. It would just be me alone, and a lot of finger platters. I was a grown up and I could, so I would.
Finally: the day arrived. I'd been humming for weeks. Nay, buzzing even, like a buzzy bee around the beehive. It all started at lunch when I bounded up the laneways between the waterfront and manners mall. For those of you who have been following me for a while, it will come as no surprise that the place I lurched into, giddy with excitement, was the Wilson Trollope Pop-Up Store. (In a nutshell, Annabelle Wilson is the most amazing designer, based in Wellington (with dresses at most reasonable prices). I'd been saving up my enthusiasm for the launch of her new collection (last season I bought 4) and was ready to try on the sumptuous pieces from her latest collection 'Cactaceae'.
The premise is that a woman who is an artist is wandering in the desert, drawing the cactus she sees, as a botanist. As a result, the collection is full of pinky blush colours, like the sand dunes at sunset. After trying on a few pieces, including the Moonlight Dress and Mirage Dress, I was torn between the Jewel Dress in a berry purple and blush pink. I decided to choose the pink one - a bit softer and lighter, so I could feel more girly. There was something missing though. It lacked a bit of - well - Tiffany's style glam. I wondered what would Audrey do, as my eyes chased around the racks of the store. They settled on a huge costume jewellery necklace. "That one!" I said to Annabelle like I'd found my long lost child in an emotional B-grade daytime movie. "That's the necklace to wear."
After sitting through an afternoon where I found my mind wandering to such work-related thoughts as "I wonder whether we'll get bubbles on arrival", I was ready to embark on the second exciting chapter of my journey to Two Grey. The hair-do.
You'll already know I've been going to Luca Hairstyling on Thorndon Quay since November last year - and totally am loving their incredible haircutting and colouring skills. My fairy-god-father (aka, David, my hairdresser) had seen me say something on my Instagram Stories about heading to Luca Hairstyling after work. "How are you getting there?" he asked. "I thought I'd Uber" I typed back, pushing the thought of my terribly low credit card balance to the back of my head. "Babe, I'll come pick you up" David typed back. It couldn't have been more exciting if you had turned mice into horses and newt into a footman.
"David," I said, looking him dead cold in the eye. "I want to do it. I want to get a Beehive."
At 5:30, I raced out of work, to find David waiting new to his mint green chariot/pumpkin/old vintage car. I jumped in and we sped down to Luca. Time was of the essence - the event started at 5:30, and I was determined to make it there around 6:15 at the latest. There wasn't a moment to spare.
Once at Luca, David took me to the basin, thinking we'd go for a blowout. "David," I said, looking him dead cold in the eye. "I want to do it. I want to get a Beehive." He looked back, equally deadpan. "OK, he said. Let's do it. Go over there."
Before long, my hair was a birds nest of backcombing as David and the beautiful Shannon (she did my hair for the wedding I went to earlier this year) frantically pulled it into place. About 1000 bobby pins later, we were done. I gasped when I saw the final product. Girls - if you've ever thought about getting a Beehive and never have - TRUST ME - it will change your ENTIRRRE LIFE! I honestly was so amazed about how this one little aspect of my look, changed, made me feel. I felt absolutely incredible, just honestly indescribable. If you have never had a beehive, I would strongly recommend you try it some time!
Finally, I was dropped at Two Grey by David and Shannon, who accelerated off into the night. I arrived and, yes, was thrilled to immediately be given a glass of bubbles. I was floored by what they'd done to the place. Pendant lighting, stunning black brick tiled pillars, quiet nooks and fresh white American oak flooring alongside brushed concrete had transformed the formerly dingy space into a bright and airy modern eatery. It TRULY looks sensational (and the finger food wasn't bad too!)
"It TRULY looks sensational (and the finger food wasn't bad too!)"
After moving around the crowd, I turned to study the new menu carefully. It boasts Louis Roederer as the "first pour" champagne (available by the glass - hurrah!). This seemed to make sense as the interior definitely had a French feel to it. The wine menu had everything from Spain to Marlborough and even better, a house cocktail which sounded right up my alley: Grey's Bramble - a concoction of gin, fresh lemon and Creme de Mure (catch me there from 5pm onwards, ya'll). The standout lunch and dinner dishes include their 45 day dry-sirloin, and the half roasted cauliflower with halloumi and tahini. The main menu also looks a treat: acai bowls, waffles, Coffee Supreme and more are on offer. I actually popped in for brunch and wrote a little piece about that, here.
I continued to walk around, snapping passers-by with my camera. By the end of the night, I'd found myself chatting the guys from Inject Design, including my old boss from when I used to waitress at Hummingbird in Courtenay Place in my final year of Uni. They helped to brand the place, which alongside the gorgeous interior design really make Two Grey shine. Oddly, I wasn't phased by the fact that I was pottering by myself for a chunk of the night. I wasn't there to meet my Prince Charming or have the most life changing night of all time: I was simply there, dressed up to the nines, to please myself and absorb the atmosphere! It felt very freeing.
Going to the opening of Two Grey, and getting myself jiffed up for no real reason besides the fact that there was an occasion to, and that it pleased me too, really showed me something important. It can be easy to keep on waiting for someone else to give you permission to do all the things you've wanted to in life (such as getting a Beehive). But if you are waiting around for someone to do that, you'll be waiting forever.
Life is short and sometimes you just need to buy the new dress for yourself, get a fancy hairdo for no real reason and launch into the crowd at an event, knowing few people but not giving a damn. Life is made to be lived and if find that you are always saying to yourself "I'll do that one day" it might be worth considering whether you should just DO IT. Don't do it for a man, don't do it for other girlfriends - do it for yourself because if you don't make an effort for yourself, how can you expect anyone else to do the same?
"Don't do it for a man, don't do it for other girlfriends - do it for yourself...if you don't make an effort for yourself, how can you expect anyone else to do the same? "
The first step to being comfortable with life and enjoying it the most is to accept things, exactly as they are, not wishing for the future. Once I would have wished I was somewhere else, like London or Paris, and not in isolated old Wellington. That night, the best part was as I left, I felt like I was walking down the street in Paris or London, like a little ingenue. All of a sudden, I realised that I DIDN'T need to go to Paris to feel like that. I just needed to take time for me, to appreciate and actually enjoy all the wonderful things life, and Wellington, for exactly what it was. I needed to change my perspective. The evening at Two Grey, and all the wonderful people of Wellington from Wilson Trollope to Luca, helped me to do so.
A Beehive, however, also definitely helps.