33. Jewellery: Write about a piece of jewellery. Who does it belong to?
Do you ever notice how your perception of something may change over time it still holds the same emotional value? Like your favourite band when you were a kid. You realise if you heard one of their cheesy songs now for the first time you wouldn’t like it, and yet you still love to hear it. This is how I feel about my mum’s necklace.
When I was a child it was the most beautiful thing in the world. Two delicate golden birds sat on a filigree branch, their emerald eyes gazing at each other while their beaks softly touched. I used to gaze at it in my mum’s jewellery box, too awed to touch it. She never seemed to wear it. It seemed to just live in that box, the delicate birds forever touching their beaks, encased in gold.
Now I look it and the first thing that strikes me is how cheap the gold is. Well, it isn’t gold at all – but some other metal sprayed gold. The birds are cute, but they are by no means delicate. And the emeralds? Plastic.
I can’t help but wonder why she would have kept a necklace like this. She never wore it so it must have some sentimental value because otherwise why would she keep it? I asked my dad if he knew where she got it from, but no. And I don’t even bother asking my brothers.
I take the necklace on the train home with me, clenched tightly in my fist, feeling like a child again, waiting for someone to tell me off for taking it. I play with it absent-mindedly, wondering why on earth she had it. I imagined a boyfriend, when she was young, long before my dad. He was sweet and sexy and she was absolutely madly in love with him. For what felt like forever, but what was actually a matter of months, he was her whole world. She couldn’t get enough of him, he was her addiction. He gave her this necklace and she adored it, she knew what little money he had. It was inperfect but it was perfect to her.
But my mum was a sensible woman. She began to notice things about him that weren’t as perfect. His temper, for example. He could fly off the handle at the smallest thing. Or his complete lack of interest in the future. She was at college, wanting to start building a career for herself, and he didn’t even have a job, just scrounging off his parents and crashing on friends’ sofas whenever his parents protested. She began to lose patience with him. They argued. She left. She didn’t look back.
But she let herself keep the necklace. She let herself keep a tiny memento of when she was young and of a time when she could lose her head over a boy with too long hair and skinny legs.
Of course I have no idea if this is a actually what happened. She probably bought it, realised she didn’t like it and couldn’t be bothered to throw it away. But I like thinking of her that way, young and free and of a time when she was something other than my mum.