When I was 22 years old, newly graduated from college and living in a junior one-bedroom in West Hollywood, my apartment was broken into while I was at the gym one evening. My camera was taken – the thief had tried to take my laptop, too, but had been unable to remove it from the docking station – but far, far worse: my jewelry box was gone from its spot on my bedside table.
I’m not a person who’s overly precious about possessions. My general feeling is that things are just things, and that they should be used. If a dish breaks or a piece of furniture gets a crack in it or a purse gets a stain, well, that’s just the price you pay for owning – and loving – something. But my jewelry – by which I mean my real jewelry, my karat gold pieces, most of them handed down from my mom or given to me to by Kendrick – those I feel differently about. They’re not just “things”…they’re my history – and, more than that, they’re my family’s history.
What was stolen from my West Hollywood apartment that summer evening: a glass bracelet from my mother’s best friend that I believed – for whatever reason – had once belonged to a Chinese princess. A lima bean necklace that my parents had given to me for my sixteenth birthday. And – most heartbreaking of all – a solid karat gold watch that my grandfather had bought for my grandmother with the $200 he was given when he was discharged from the army. I was devastated by the loss – but it wasn’t about the watch, of course; it was about my grandparents. I still think of that watch often, and part of me hopes that somewhere, someone out there is enjoying it. I hope it means something to them, too.
What wasn’t taken were two pieces that I very fortunately happened to be wearing at the time of the break-in; the two pieces you see on me here. One is a karat gold necklace that my father bought my mother many decades ago for no special reason – just because she looked so beautiful in it – and the other is my mother’s original karat gold-and-sapphire wedding ring…which also happens to be the ring that Kendrick took from my right-hand ring finger and slipped onto my left on the night that he proposed.
I love these pieces because I think they’re beautiful, of course, but even more: I love them because they’ll last forever. Because they’re not just mine; they’re my daughter’s now, too. One day she’ll put that ring on her own hand, and the memories that it holds for her will be my mother’s, and mine, and her own: the history of the women in our family, all wrapped up in one lttle circle of gold.