Hitting the Road: T2A Writer’s Upcoming Tour

Rachel Levitin Live - Photo by Isaiah Headen

Rachel Levitin

Yesterday I received a delightfully rare request, “Let’s chat, make beautiful magic happen, and inspire people.” The request came from t2a contributor and friend Rachel Levitin, who has an upcoming tour taking her from VA to IL to MN and back again over Thanksgiving’s celebration.

We believe the best way to honor the people we’ve loved and lost is by following our dreams and passions. What better way to spread the love we’ve been given? Rachel’s story is a great reminder: follow your heart and pursue your dreams.

Lords of the internet rules, please forgive me, this Q&A about Rachel’s tour and inspiration is rather long but I promise it is worth it. Start with a sampling of Rachel’s acoustic stylings before perusing the fodder.
Share why you are excited about your upcoming tour?

It’s funny. I’ve never been on tour before. I always wondered what it would be like. It always seemed like some far-fetched adventure that regular people who weren’t rock stars didn’t get to experience. Now I know that’s not necessarily the case.

I promised myself back in April that I’d give touring a shot. I was still riding the high induced by making my New York City stage debut at Arlene’s Grocery in February. That’s when I made the promise to myself to tour. It took a few months to get on track and follow through, but once August hit I figured there was no better time than the present.

I’m not big on taking vacation … or rather … I’m not good at taking vacation because work, to me, is a top priority, but in August I was clicking through my Google calendar and started to think about making travel plans for Thanksgiving since trips are always way cheaper if you book in advance. That’s when the tour was born.

The way I figured it, if I was going to see my family for the holiday I might as well try to book a few shows. It all started coming together from there, though, I was nervous it wouldn’t pan out and I’d be left feeling foolish for trying.

It’ll truly be a trains, planes and automobiles type of affair. My travel plans include a 17-hour Amtrak ride from D.C. to Chicago after playing Virginia the night before, a quick train ride from Chicago to Indiana for an afternoon show, a ride back from Indiana to Chicago for an evening show, a train ride to central Illinois, a road trip to Minnesota and a couple flights back to D.C. to round out the entire trip. There’s so much travel involved in this that I feel like I owe it to the people I know to send a few postcards. Needless to say, I haven’t been this excited about being absolutely exhausted in a long time.

What do you think your father would say about your upcoming tour?

After my dad died, our family friends and people closest to my dad made it a point to tell my sister and me how much he loved his family. From what I’ve heard, the man barely talked about himself. All he ever talked about were his girls (our mother and two dogs included). So I have a feeling he’d be a little jealous since he was a songwriter back in the day totally had the chops to make it big if that had been his cup of tea. But really, I think he’d mostly be proud and in awe that his first born did exactly what she always said she wanted to do: make music.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about sharing a work on Trauma to Art but is afraid to put themselves out there?

It isn’t for everyone. That’s the important thing to know. Sharing your deepest thoughts in that medium might work for some but it won’t work for all. It’s not a “One Size Fits All” type of affair.

Grief is a sensitive topic. Some people find solace in being a loner during the process and others find it beneficial to seek professional assistance.  If you’re anything like me, though, there’s something therapeutic about putting all those emotions into art and writing.

It doesn’t work like a Band-Aid. It’s not going to be a quick fix. The healing process takes time. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever be the person I was before I experienced all the deaths in my family that I did in 2009. But that’s okay. The scar tissue has grown over and the hurt has subsided. There will come a time when you’ll wake up in the morning and find your motivation again. But until then, just seeking out ways to get you back to a place where you can smile and say, “Yeah, life is good,” is the best possible thing you can do for yourself.

Trauma to Art gave me an outlet when all I needed was somewhere to let all the feelings out. I’m very grateful for that.

How would you describe your life before you started to deal with the loss of your father and now?

Looking back, my bad habits started hours before my dad passed away. My dog was put to sleep nearly 12 hours before my dad passed and the first thing I did after crying in disbelief that my childhood pup was gone, I walked to McDonald’s and downed a Big Mac. Mind you, I’m not a Big Mac person. I’m more a dollar menu double cheeseburger gal, so this purchase was out of the ordinary for me. I had just started my second semester of senior year at American University when this happened, so school served as a distraction from my real life outside of the Greek Life bubble I created for myself on campus.

Later that year, I lost both my grandmothers and was unemployed for a short time. It got to the point where I wasn’t taking care of myself. I wasn’t active. I was eating all the wrong foods. I was drinking too much wine for my pint-sized body. It wasn’t a healthy life.

I don’t know where the transformation came from but there just came a point where I was fed up with being a Debbie Downer who wasn’t taking care of herself. That’s not the kind of person I was raised to be and it most certainly is not the legacy I plan on leaving behind. So I woke up one day and resumed my life right where I had pressed the pause button. Life felt like it was put on hold when my dog, dad and grandma’s died, but now I’m back living again and it feels pretty gosh darn good.

Rachel Levitin is a 24-year-old with a B.A. in Journalism and a minor in Music Theory/Music History from The American University. She moved from Chicago to DC in the fall of 2005 and spent the first 18 years of my life in a home within a 5-15 minute walking distance of Wrigley Field. For more information about Rachel’s writing and music go to her blog, The Chicago to DC POV.

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