Wendy from Wendy’s Adventures in LaLaLand chose me for one of these things where you answer a bunch of questions about yourself. Wendy’s great-- charming and interesting and rather clever. If you don’t know her already, I’m happy to introduce you.
But even though I am physically unable to climb the fence at Union Square Park to lounge on the grass four days before it opens officially (even though quite a number of other people have done it), we all know I am, at heart, a rule breaker. And even though my seventh grade geography/world history teacher praised my brilliant succinctness, I’m sure you’ve all noticed that I can write sort of a lot about nothing. So, I’ve elected to answer only one question from the list, though I encourage you to answer all the questions. There. Tag, or whatever.
I have some really great jewelry: Some diamonds from special occasions like my 21st birthday and college graduation. The usual pearls. A circle pin of my great-grandmother’s that looks good in my hair. A charm bracelet with about 25 interesting charms. An enormous cocktail ring, swiped from my mom’s jewelry box, with a stone the color of Windex. A small collection of carved cinnabar bracelets.
But there’s one piece I truly love.
I was out for a walk in my new neighborhood. I’d just moved to New York. I don’t know when it was, but I’d moved in the summer, and it was still hot. Very hot. And I was still basking in the freedom of anonymity and. . . aloneness. I was happy. It had been a while.
I don’t remember what street it was on, but there was this sort-of sidewalk fair. It was more flea market than anything else, with a whole table full of huge, vintage clip-on earrings. They are just so fabulous. And shiny. They make me feel glamorous, even though I never know where or when I can wear them, and if I ever do, I wonder why I’m so crabby and have such a dull headache before I remember I have something like 500 pounds of pressure per square inch on each of my earlobes*. So I mostly end up wearing them around my house when I need to feel pretty.
I bought some. It was a four-dollar splurge: one ridiculous pair of green rhinestone flowers. But then I saw it.
It was sweet, etched with some flourishes and flowers. A locket, gold, a little bigger than a nickel. I saw it and I loved it and it was mine. I recognized it like the baby Dalai Lama must recognize his stuff.
When I picked it up for a closer look, I saw that it had originally been colored. The green of the flourishes had mostly rubbed off, and the flowers had been pink. But I knew it really was mine. The monogram in the center? It was my letter.
The lady on the other side of the table apologized that it cost more than everything else. It was older, she said. I had just moved and started school and spent all of my savings. I should have used the money for food, but I didn’t.
It cost twelve dollars or sixteen dollars, and felt altogether irresponsible. But it was mine. This locket is a time, a place, and a philosophy.
You chose the life you live mostly, but sometimes your life just chooses you. Luck and fate and chance and destiny-- I don’t know what to believe, but I have to believe something. People wander through, but sometimes someone shows up, and you know that they’re meant to stay. I have to believe that I can recognize my people. That some day I’ll recognize my place. My person.
I have to believe that life will give me the things I need and that all I’ll have to do is recognize them when they show up.
*I made this up. But it does hurt.