When I was sixteen years old, my grandparents on my dad’s side, Henry and Bea, bought me a Tiffany lima bean necklace. It was awesome. It was also owned by every single other recently-turned-sixteen-year-old girl that I knew (I went to a fancy Upper East Side private school, and fancy UES private schools are more or less base camp for things like Tiffany lima bean necklaces), but I loved it because it was the most special piece of jewelry I’d ever had in my life.
It’s gone now. It’s probably being worn by some sixteen-year-old girl in West Hollywood…which is fine by me, as long as she’s enjoying it.
When I first moved out to LA after graduation, I knew no one. Well, one person – my ex-boyfriend, Rob, whom I later ended up getting back together with for awhile – but really, I felt quite alone. And also quite brave for having moved out to an unfamiliar city on an unfamiliar coast with a decidedly “uncertain” (“crazy” works, too) career plan. Mom and I had flown out together to find an apartment a couple of weeks prior to my cross-country drive with Dad, and we found a very cute, clean, safe-seeming place on Martel for just $1,050 a month (fairly reasonable for a one-bedroom in LA, even back then).
The first night in my new apartment, the worst thing that happened was that I discovered I needed blackout curtains. My place faced east – it actually had a perfect view of the Hollywood sign from the balcony, which was cool/poignant/depressing, in turn – and the sun flooded in every morning sometime around the middle of the night. Over the next few months worse things happened, including some crushing loneliness, and more than a little awareness that I was likely to not ever do particularly well in the career I had chosen (or in life, as I felt at the time). The next couple of years included a horrible breakup with someone whom I loved and could not be with, some questionable career decisions, a move to a beautiful house in Sherman Oaks, and a subsequent relationship that was so devastating and abusive that it continues to affect me to this day (that’s all I’ll say about that, at least for now).
But back to when I lived in West Hollywood. You know by now that I’ve been broken into once; did you know that it happened before? It did; apparently my luck with travel extends to my luck with apartment rentals. Around 7PM one night I went to the gym (yeah, I was a gym-goer back in those days), and when I returned home an hour or so later I found the door open, and my jewelry box and camera gone. The thief had also tried to take my laptop, but it was in a docking station (remember those?), and apparently he/she couldn’t figure out how to remove it.
Losing my camera sorta sucked, because I had to buy a new one. But the worst things I lost? The gold watch that my grandfather had bought my grandmother with the $200 he was given after being discharged from the army. The circle link bracelet from Swamp John’s, in Ogunquit, that my dad tried to secretly buy me when I was right there in the store next to him, and I totally knew he was buying me something, but he’d never done anything like that before so I pretended I had no idea what was going on. A glass bracelet that I once believed belonged to a Chinese princess. The very first pair of dangly earrings I had ever been allowed to wear. And my lima bean necklace that my grandparents gave me for my sixteenth birthday.
I miss those things. I hope someone out there is enjoying them, and I don’t begrudge him or her that enjoyment – I really don’t – but I do think of them from time to time, and wish that I still had them. They’re just things…but they were my things. My family’s things. I’ve let go of some members of my family, and to have to let go of what they left behind…well, sometimes that just feels like too much.
On a ridiculously lighter note, earlier this evening I attended an event for Tiffany’s and discovered that the lima bean necklace is now being produced in lapis and yellow gold: probably my favorite gemstone/metal combination. It’s too expensive for me – around $500 – but it’s very beautiful, and I could envision it being the perfect gift for a graduation, or an engagement, or what have you. Anyway, I started out trying to write this post about how much I loved the necklace – because what happened last night was nothing bigger than going to an event and thinking that the jewelry was pretty and having one piece in particular remind me of a loss in my life – but now it’s turned into this…and I don’t really know how that happened.
I guess it’s just that looking at that necklace made me miss my grandma, and my grandpa, and even my parents (who live just a couple of miles crosstown) very much, and I think that’s what jewelry is all about, really: marking the moment, and putting love into the small things…things that are sometimes no bigger than a lima bean.
Posted by Jordan Reid, 7/16/10.