Day 24: Something to Hold On To

“It was beautiful not despite but because of the friction it has had to endure. It had been thrashed around, but instead of being destroyed, it was improved with every scratch and scrape, sculpted. In fact, the scuffs themselves are what gave it its quiet splendor; they are responsible for turning a simple piece of glass (which could have just as easily been trash) into a gem. It wouldn’t be the same without the wear and tear; it wouldn’t be something pretty enough to be turned into jewelry if it hadn’t been damn near broken. I closed my fist around this tear-shaped gem and thought about my own uneven edges, my own abrasions, and things I have endured that have, instead of breaking me, completed me, prepared me for the next tumble. Its odd beauty was hard-won. It came from reinventing itself. From having risen to the top of the discard pile. Like a phoenix, from victim to victor. (325)”
― Wendy Blackburn, Beachglass: A Novel

My first forensics competition scared me to death.  I’d always loved playing pretend.  When I was little, I’d do something called “The Never Ending Play” which was basically me, putting on one of my mom’s old bridesmaids dressing and insisting I was a princess and putting on a play.  All. Day.

Is anyone surprised my major was acting and performance?

So for my first competition I’d worked and worked on my piece and I knew it inside and out, but I was anxious and scared.  My mom said she knew what would help and she went to her jewelry box (an exciting and sacred place) and pulled out a small ring.

“Your dad gave this to me when we started dating.  You can wear it for luck.”

And throughout the day, whenever I was scared or nervous, I’d play with the ring on my finger and it felt like my mom was up there with me.

Thus began a tradition, whenever I performed or had an important test to take, I’d have a special piece of jewelry.  When I graduated from 8th grade I got a small gold ring with a tiny oval sapphire and an even tinier little diamond.  During high school, when I performed in music competitions, I’d wear it…or borrow an antique pin from my Oma.

There was something immensely comforting about having that on me at all times.  Because when you go up to the front of the room, stand in front of the judge, your mom can’t be there.  But you’re wearing her ring, so she’s there.  You’re wearing your own ring, lovingly chosen by your family, and they’re all there with you too.  How can you be afraid?

When things are rough, I treat jewelry as a talisman…a touchstone.  I can feel the comforting weight of my anniversary pendant around my neck and know my husband is thinking of me.  This is why jewelry is one of the most precious of gifts to me.  Not for its monetary value…but as something I can hold to when things are bad.  Its tangible.

Even the kiss for luck on your lips fades after a few moments.

A hug will only warm you briefly and then you have to march into battle.

But something small…even a tiny heart on a chain…you can touch it…and its like touching them.

By the same token, I feel strongly about letters.  I still write them and they’re important to me because they are words you can hold.  Even if someone tells you something, it only goes in your memory.  Memories can change if you run them through your mind enough times…better a letter…that can’t change.

Among my treasured possessions, is a postcard I got during a difficult time.  I’ve kept it on my desk in a crappy plastic frame (so I can read the back) since 2004.

“Its terrible to watch good people suffer, especially over something they love.  Don’t let yourself become a bitter cynic, there are already too many of us as it is and we need the optimists to stay sane.”

 When I feel discouraged, or if I feel stagnant and unsure of what I’m doing…I can hold that note, run my fingers over the letters and words and its real.

I still have all my love letters from high school…and there’s almost a magic to them with the strange and new passion in them.

Unlike a phone call or a conversation, a written declaration of love is a thing; a thing which exists in the world (often for a very long time) with the power to conjure up an emotional disposition, which is why, on occasion, we ask for them back, destroy them, prevent people from publishing them or keep them.

-Four Letter Word Joshua Knelman and Rosalind Porter

The positive side of the above is, like jewelry…you can hold and touch it.  In moments of doubt or when you’re alone, you have something to reach to, hold to.

Its something of a joke that save all of my emails and that I’m saving them in case I need them as evidence.

The thing is, I do need them as evidence.  I need them to remember encouragement in difficult times.  I need them to remember moments in time.  I need them to remember who I used to be and who my friends used to be.  Sometimes you can get so much from an old conversation…and sometimes it can show you how much you’ve changed.

I had been talking to one of my lovely coworkers about what she wanted for her birthday and she said “A card, with words of love and affirmation.” I respect her very much in that she was serious.  No gifts…just words..written down to be saved forever.

I have saved every letter I’ve gotten from a friend.  I go back to them and remember that the person who wrote me, sat down and took the time to do it.  And what a wonderful gift to receive…that someone would sit down, take the time, and write you about why you’re a great friend, or why they’re happy to know you…or just that they were thinking of you.

That note is a talisman too.  It may not protect you from all the evils in this world, but if you’re up in front of that difficult room, or feeling like your alone…just reach out and touch those words…your friends are with you.

Physical Health:

Hours of Sleep: 7.5 hours

Exercise: All the stairs.  In very cool heels.  Which, while attractive, was a terrible decision.

Breakfast: apple, babybel mini cheese, almonds

Health

Cleaning or Packing?: Cleaned up old grocery bags, picked up a bunch of boxes for packing

Made my bed?:  Sheer stubbornness is winning out on this.

Read 1 book a week: Four Letter Word by Joshua Knelman & Rosalind Porter.

Conclusion

“Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds’ eggs and human hearts and dreams, are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks. Or they are words on the air, composed of sounds and ideas-abstract, invisible, gone once they’ve been spoken-and what could be more frail than that? But some stories, small, simple ones about setting out on adventures or people doing wonders, tales of miracles and monsters, have outlasted all the people who told them, and some of them have outlasted the lands in which they were created.”
― Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders

If you have a friend, write them a letter.  I promise you, you won’t regret it, they’ll be pleasant surprised and you’ll make their day.  Better still to say you were thinking about them.  Best, tell them why you love them.  Tell them something they said to you that built you up.

And if you need to go into battle…wear your mother’s ring or your grandmother’s pin…who can be against you when those you love are by your side?

-C

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