After nearly three years at Rowdy, Editor-in-Chief Ana Escalante bids her final farewell to the place she's called home for so long.
(Photo Credit/Ana Escalante and her big red Volume 5 ballon)
Over the last few months, it feels like I have written and rewritten this letter millions of times in my head. I am a perfectionist, if you haven’t been able to tell. So, going into this issue, it’s a surprise that the last thing I write is my final goodbye, waving off into the sunset on a white horse. I’ve spent countless hours wondering what this will look like. The end, perhaps, was always more in my cards than the beginning.
I was living in Japan, freshly graduated from high school when I first fell in love with fashion. The idea to become a magazine editor wasn’t something I had ever planned out for myself – I wanted to be a princess, then astronaut, then veterinarian, then human rights lawyer. Somehow along the way, I found myself bursting with creative passion, with hopes and dreams to make this world a better place - whether that be through beautiful clothing or dissecting information on how to attend a protest safely. And one day, my magazine prince charming came along.
Rowdy and I became entangled in a long-term love affair. Messy at times, but all the better because of it. Just like a toxic ex, those closest to me have always wondered when I’ll take the plunge and rip the bandaid off. The decision to graduate isn’t one I’ve taken lightly. Rowdy has given me everything, and then some. But as people our age so often do, we grow up and turn our heads toward the “real” world – no matter how big and frightening it may be– without our security blankets. I’ve arrived at the final train station, and the gate is about to close. What once was an overwhelming saccharine delight for this magazine has been eclipsed by other tremendous things we will all escape in pursuit of. It isn’t a sad, empty feeling, but rather, a bittersweet one. A stack of papers, bound together by staples and adoration, has sparked a match in me I didn’t know existed. For once in my life, after tragedy and heartbreak, Rowdy made me feel something again.
Throughout most of my adult life, I didn’t know who I was without this publication. When this becomes your entire personality, like a sorority girl with a bad case of the summer study abroad, who are you outside of it? Leaving meant abandoning a role I’d wanted for so long behind. For the handful of confidants who knew about this decision, the choice to embrace my past tightly isn’t out of character. A lot of people have asked me what comes next. It’s a valid question– one I often don’t have a serious answer to. What will it be like to leave all I’ve ever known? Freeing, perhaps. Terrifying? Possibly.
To be honest, I’m still figuring it out. But I’ve come to learn that sometimes, it’s not about being the best editor, journalist, or creative mind. Sometimes, it's about becoming a better human.
Thank you to my wonderful staff who has become a second family over these last few years. It hasn’t always been easy dealing with me, but I am eternally grateful for the dedication and passion you’ve all put in. There is literal blood, sweat and tears that go into every aspect of production – I’ve seen it firsthand. Thank you to all of Rowdy’s editors for the past five volumes: Andrea Wilson, Dana Meyers, Jennifer Inglet, Veronica Lam Leo, Brooke DeSantis, Briana Dapuzzo, Ava Loomar, Valerie Muzondi, Riana Rickard, Angie Tra, Mariel Wiley, Jenna Bennett, Kalia Richardson and Lauren Rousseau. Thank you for making our staff and audience feel seen, heard, and understood with your enthusiasm and love time and time again.
A stack of papers, bound together by staples and adoration, has sparked a match in me I didn’t know existed. For once in my life, after tragedy and heartbreak, Rowdy made me feel something again.
To my OGs: I couldn’t have survived this journey without you. The dearest collection of staff-turned-besties-turned-therapists, I promise I won’t divulge our deepest, darkest secrets in a tell-all book when I’m 40. Baring our hearts and souls together, both professionally and personally, to create something much bigger than ourselves is something I will cherish for years to come. My life story is a brighter one knowing you were all in it. You know who you are. Thank you for believing in me when I couldn’t quite believe in myself at times. My place, same time, next week? I’ll put the pizza on the card.
To the youngins, diving head first into this world: The love you have for Rowdy far outgrows anything I could have ever possibly dreamed of. I rest well knowing that this all lies in your hands now. I am so proud of everything we have accomplished together. Remember to take breaks sometimes to cultivate your own thoughts and feelings. May your emotions continue to be your guiding light in this chaotic world. Continue fighting.
Thank you to all of the wonderful contributors, publishing companies, freelancers, businesses, photographers, boutiques and mentors who have allowed Rowdy to flourish not only in our little Gainesville community, but domestically and internationally. With your help, we’ve been able to turn our dreams into reality. Thank you for coming here to read, to listen. For connecting with us, now and forever.
Rowdy will always be a part of me, as I am sure it will be a part of you. Whether you have sent me an Instagram DM, talked about this publication in passing, liked a photo, attended a launch party or purchased an issue – thank you. From the bottom of my blink-and-you-might-miss-it heart. All of you, each of you, have left a tiny mark on my life whether or not you realize it. To see your overwhelming love is something that makes every small growing pain worth it. It’s what I didn’t know at first, but now know, about the boundless family we’ve built in the Marston basement, at the SL8 Gallery, in miniscule coffee shops and Zoom waiting rooms across the country.
Just because my chapter ends here doesn’t mean it’s over. It will never be over. The rareness, the timeliness of the connection we’ve all shared together will always exist. The effects Rowdy has created within our communities – within myself – will never go away. I’m endlessly grateful to have shared a little part of my universe with you.
This piece originally appeared in Rowdy Magazine Volume V: An Overture Of Something Great. Get your copy now at rowdymagazine.com/shop while supplies last.
Ana Escalante was Rowdy Magazine's Editor-in-chief from April 2020 to May 2021. She likes podcasts, comfortable sneakers and yelling about being a Capricorn. You can follow her daily rants and musings at ***** Magazine (No, she hasn't signed her NDA yet.) or via Tweet @AEscalante22