earrings

Friday Diary: The things we save, unopened, unused by daintydora

I often think about the things I have that I haven't used yet, unseen and unopened. It's not that I have loads of abandoned things, but sometimes I'll find a little packet of something tucked away, like a pack of tights 'too special' to wear yet, or an unworn but coveted item of clothing that I don't want to 'spoil'. I don't think I do it consciously. It's more an understanding with myself: not yet, not yet, the time hasn't come yet.

This week I discovered four sets of earrings that my husband bought for me in 2012. I remember it was 2012 because he was working away for a few months. In London. And it was winter. And I missed him.

Unopened packets of earrings from the V&A

We saw each other every few weeks, but it's not the same. It feels different. I think you act different somehow. You get used to someone being there, or not. And when you're used to it just being you again, living alone, it takes a few days to readjust to someone else again. And then the visit is over.

One weekend I visited him in London, and of course I wanted to make the most of all the city has to offer (creative-inspiration overwhelm!)

We went to the Victoria & Albert Museum. Of course. It was the exhibition about British Design (1948-2012).

We arrived late having dawdled through the day and got lost on the Tube. The exhibition was going to close in less than an hour.

We wangled a student entry because it was so late in the day, despite not being students. We ran to the exhibition and began power-reading the signs that described the displays and absorbing all the innovation in double-quick time. We giggled. It was fun. We felt like students, young, younger, silly, carefree. I don't think we would have felt quite the same if we'd been going to an exhibition at home. Everything felt amplified and different, caught in a bubble, stretched and kaleidoscopic with colour.

Of course we had to visit the shop. I think it was open later than the exhibition? I bought a 'Betty' rain hat in vivid pink that I now feel a bit embarrassed to wear.

And then I saw the earrings. I loved them. They were so fun. My husband bought me these four designs. It was silly. They weren't so expensive. But he wanted to get me them to make me happy and because it felt like we were on holiday and they were in funky colours and shapes. We were at the V&A! In London!

And I really don't know why I didn't just take a pair out of its packet right there and wear them straight away. Wear them home. Out to dinner. On the flight home.

Earrings in their little packets, savored, fingered, unopened. Pretty cellophane that holds inside everything that I felt on that day, so far away from home and from my life, but my life was there right with me; me and my husband and all our memories ,together, living, happy.

Just seeing the packets of earrings this week transported me back there again, feeling the same things, the same emotions. Holding hands, skipping round exhibitions, feeling free, loose and free and like there was nothing else in the world. Just him and me where I picked these earrings in sweetie colours, plastic fantastic.

Unopened packet of earrings from the V&A

And I've still never worn them. They've taken on new meaning.

Isn't life (and love) strange?

The Emerald Earring by daintydora

Emerald earring I take the hexagonal box down from the shelf and run my finger over the decorative stained glass panel. The colour has begun to peel; etched away by time and touch. Inside the wooden confines a vibrant rainbow of life shimmers out from red velveteen pockets and compartments speckled with dust.

I spy tiger's eye and gold and coral and paste and ivory and lapis lazuli and agates from the Western Cape. There are rings and earrings and a couple of brooches, and a special hair clip that I wore as a child; all safely stowed away in Nana's jewellery box.

Nana’s jewellery box brimming with the celebratory threads of her life, her treasure. The cherished place where secrets fell, tangled in silver and gold. A quiet place. A calm place. Save for all those memories and colours vying for the limelight.

Grazing the individual pieces with my finger; the gold knot earrings, the amethyst ring, I am transported back to the stories Nana told me as a young girl. From the top of Table Mountain and its airless misty scrub of heat and weeds, to the beach at Kalk Bay dancing with shells and late-afternoon swimmers; my Nana the lifeguard who swam with the sharks.

And then my eyes fall to the emerald earring.

Just one. It’s contours alive with it’s vibrant energy caught between leaves of gold. How sad to keep just one of a pair, the other mislaid, lost, stolen, gone. Where does it rest now? Is it equally preserved in a box of wooden calm; revered and clasped with grace and love?

Nana didn't wear her jewels unless occasion demanded and I wonder just how many occasions she might have had. Back in the days when she was young and stayed out dancing to the Afrikaans music she called 'tikkie driver’ and loved so much. When she wasn't restricted by a cornucopia of medicines for blood pressure and angina and heart problems.

She loved green. I remember a green dress she had with huge white flowers on, and a pea-green raincoat she often wore. The emerald earrings would have set her face alight, contrasting with her bright white hair. I'm not sure now what her natural colour would have been.

She told me once that her hair turned white overnight when she heard the news that her mother had died days after she set sail for Southampton from Cape Town. She hadn't known that anything was wrong. It would take too long to go back. She never got to say goodbye.

Emerald is fire, strength. The jewel of her jewels.

They say that stones take on the vibrations of their owners, be it pebbles on the beach or tumbled stones to semi-precious and precious stones. I wonder about the missing earring and if it was tossed aside or perhaps repurposed as a brooch.

The fire lives on, I'm sure, that fearless passion and light, the stone simply a conduit, a mirror for it’s surroundings.

My mind filled once again with thoughts of Table Mountain, and the ashes that were scattered from its airless heights, I restore the precious cargo of jewels, more precious and rich in memory than money could ever afford, to their neat red valleys and place Nana’s jewellery box back on its shelf.

This short story was inspired by the image of the emerald earring, taken by my 'blog-buddy' Karen who writes at Leaf & Petal. Read Karen's corresponding post to see how the image inspired her.