The Starfish

That time we went to Maine and got married.

A little over ten years ago today, Kendrick and I – and his best man, Matt – arrived in Ogunquit, Maine, and checked into our respective hotel rooms. The rest of our family and friends weren’t set to start trickling in for a couple of hours more, so we decided to wander down to the main part of town and get some lunch, maybe check out the beach.

We wandered into a little jewelry shop – a touristy gift place, full of t-shirts and hats with GONE FISHING and IT’S BEER O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE and such on them. I spotted this necklace – a gold starfish studded with tiny crystals – and I loved it so much, but when I say that we were broke after paying all of the wedding expenses, I mean we were let’s-not-get-coffee-at-the-deli-today-because-it-costs-a-dollar-style broke. The necklace was only twelve dollars, but still. That was twelve coffees.

Kendrick bought it for me anyway. I wore it every day for two years, until all the gold was worn off and some of the crystals had fallen out. And then we went back to Ogunquit for our babymoon, just before our son was born, and stopped into that very same jewelry shop, and he bought it for me again.

Every single thing you see in this photo is gone now.

I always told him that one day I wanted to get a *real* version of the necklace made – one with actual gold that wouldn’t chip off, and maybe even diamonds (or, ok, more likely cubic zirconiums). I thought about bringing the original necklace in to get dipped and repaired, but I never did, and the original starfish went into a box in my closet and the replacement starfish went somewhere else – I have no idea where – and the years passed. We had our first baby, and then our second, and then we moved, and moved again, and then more years passed, and our marriage – and life as we know it – came crashing down.

It (by which I mean the end) started on my birthday weekend; I think some of you guys intuited that from the post I wrote about turning 37. Within a week we were separated, but even in the middle of all of that mess, Kendrick mentioned once or twice that he still had to give me my birthday present. Depending on the day, I rolled my eyes when he said that, or ignored him, or lashed out, or cried. He stopped mentioning it, and a few months went by, and I forgot about it completely.

Presents are not our priority at the moment.

Then, on Friday, he asked if he could come by the house to give me something. My birthday present, he said. Sure, of course, I said. You really don’t have to.

He showed up, and in his hand was a box, and inside that box was my starfish – the grey, tarnished one from our long-ago wedding weekend, tucked inside a little plastic bag. There was also another, smaller box, and when I opened it, there it was: the necklace I’d always wanted. He’d gone to the same jeweler who made my engagement ring, and had him create a perfect replica of my starfish, peppered with tiny diamonds in a rainbow of colors. It’d taken awhile, he explained, to get it just right.

I wish, sometimes, that love was our problem. I think maybe it’d be easier that way.

gold starfish necklace with diamonds

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