I signed up for Ali Edwards's 31 Things, and promptly began skipping all of the daily emails, reducing their loveliness to the guilt of that which I ignore in my inbox that I actually ask for (which is different than my disdain for the cascade of crap that I don't ever ask for, ever.) I have a sick cycle of obsession with daily prompts and online courses that I sign up for and perpetually forget about and run out of time for and blow off -- especially the ones I pay for. But I've been interested in Ali's work forever (although I honestly have zero interest in scrapbooking -- it's more the documentation aspect of her vibe that I like) so I thought I'd try it again.
I'm going to start with Day One and make my way through as I can. I'm going to discard the ones I don't care about, too, which should make things easier and less stressful for me. But I hate to discard anything, so we'll see how that goes, too. Welcome to my latest exercise in working out my codependence AND weird combination of slacker-overachiever issues on the internet.
Day one asked us to write about jewelry that was important to us. That was pretty easy.
My grandmother was the opposite of a fancy or affected person, not in any way concerned with clothing beyond being more than presentable for church and social functions. At home, she wore ancient clothing and recycled in her own way before it was a community mandate, out of economic, rather than environmental necessity. She did not easily buy herself new things. She got her hair cut in a utilitarian manner, and did not dye it after she turned 50. As for jewelry, she wore a wedding band, and that was pretty much it, although she'd wear a necklace, from time to time, and a mother's ring that didn't quite fit over her large-ish knuckles.
In her ancient armoire, a light blue plastic baby wipes box held several rings, from a time before she was a wife and mother, along with a cameo necklace. Her father gave them to her, she said, for various occasions. I remember taking them out often when I would nose around in her stuff as a child.
Sometime in my early 20s, she decided to gift these pieces out to her four granddaughters. I received this one.
It is the only important thing I own.
I mean this sincerely. I care about other material things. My car, my computers (losing those would suck), my cameras (that would suck more), my tv and my clothing and all of the other stuff that I rely on to make my life go along. But this is the only irreplaceable thing I own.
We could talk about the irony -- that I am the unmarried, oldest child, and it is a vintage engagement ring that people pay big bucks for now. That it's cracked in the back. That I never wear it, and yet still have carted it along with me through every move, every life transition, riding in my purse in the front seat of a Chevy Cavalier and a Honda Civic and a big old moving truck and Volkswagen Beetle, along with a battered knock-off first edition of Leaves of Grass, the only other thing that I will not trust to movers. I have taken it out from time to time and worn it to feel closer to her, to my life force, to something, flicking my thumb across its broken back in an odd, comforting gesture.
Mostly it lives in my bedside table drawer, in a ring box from Naples that held a long-lost cameo that I think ended up with my great-grandmother. If I lost it, I would die inside. I thought I did, once, ashamed to speak of it for months, carrying the tiny tragedy in the back of my mind, until my mother asked me one day if I wanted grandma's ring back in my own stuff, that she had moved it into her drawer for safekeeping when I moved, that we had forgotten to make the transaction at the end of the moving chaos.
I breathed. The world was put back solid.
I have no idea how much it's worth. I've been asked a couple of times to check that out and I don't want to. I don't care. I don't want to know it's worth a lot in case that weighs it down, and to tell me it's worth nothing is pointless, because no dollars make a difference in that context.
If I ever get married, in the the spiritual or legal sense or both, I know that I will adopt it as my outward symbol of that occasion and I will wear it. It will transfer all of its super powers to the hope of love and depth and longevity of that relationship, and it will absorb all of the momentum and meaning of that happening in my life, because I know it can do that now, like nothing I could buy in a store after all of this time.
And if I don't, I'm not sure what will happen, and I don't really feel compelled to blurt that out right now. I feel like it is somehow time to claim it, though. I need to trust myself, that I don't need to leave it in a drawer, and to trust it, that it doesn't have to stay there. The days of this life go by faster and faster, and leaving anything locked up until the next thing happens or doesn't seems to be the ultimate folly, the fear-based action, the delay of joy when I don't have any to spare.
The day she gave it to me, I was in shock. I didn't feel worthy. But she always wanted things out of their boxes. She wanted us to have what we needed and what she seemed to think we deserved, so it's way past high time to channel that energy and assign elsewhere.
It is the only important thing I own.