Sunday, January 01, 2006

Grown ups and gold beads

I have to say that this might be one of the best New Year's eves of my career. As I get older I'm getting less embarrassed at doing the "not right" thing. It makes me a little weirder and it does sometimes feel uncomfortable but it generally works out for the best.

I went to the party and had a grand time. There was pie and champagne and Trivial Pursuit and presents and a ton of wedding photos. I felt like I didn't make an idiot of myself and was genuinely glad to be there. I stuck to my plan and left around 11:15 to catch the bus to get home and sit next to the dog before the fireworks start. She's old and she doesn't handle loud noises terribly well. So I called the OK kids as I hiked to the bus, took one of my favorite buses down one of my favorite streets into my neighborhood and hit my very own apartment at 11:59, just in time to see the ball drop the final few feet.

All my life I've tended to wear jewelry that has a sentimental connection to a particular event. Tonight I decided to wear the gold beads and the Tiffany ring. Since I'm still wired and I want to wait until the fireworks pass to take the dog out I thought the story of tonight's accessories would make a good kick off to 2006. (Yikes, 2006!)

The ring is simple. It's a gold band with diamonds set into it like stars. My last job had rather substantial bonuses at year end. I usually invested my bonus and paid off debt. Last year, though, I decided that I would use a chunk of the bonus to do something nice just for me, something unnecessary but satisfying. So I bought myself a ring from Tiffany's. It seemed exorbitant but also exciting and I love the ring, it'll stay with me forever. You know, unless I get mugged. I bought it in March while ChemE was visiting, on the main floor at Tiffany's flagship store on Fifth Avenue and it's an experience I highly recommend.

The beads are somewhat more complicated but mean even more to me.

A few years ago Auntie Blanche mentioned that she wanted to give me and ChemE her gold beads. At the time we both said something along the lines of, "I'd be very flattered and thank you so much, you know you don't have to, though. Whenever you think is best." We didn't really know what the gold beads were.

Last week I picked Auntie Blanche up to go to a doctor's appointment and then meet a few people for lunch. While we waited for the doctor she told me that, if we had time, she'd like to go to the bank and get the gold beads out of her safety deposit box to give to us for Christmas. So we did. I'd never been to a safety deposit box before so it was a fascinating educational experience and a lot of fun. She showed me the gold beads and we tucked them in her purse.

At lunch she gave them to each of us and told us the story. Her grandfather and his best friend married sisters. At some point in their courtship or marriage they two men decided to follow popular convention and buy gold bead necklaces for their wives. Given grandfather's nature Auntie Blanche suspects it was her grand uncle's idea. Her grandfather was less loose with a buck apparently. As the years wore on the 2 necklaces were passed down and Auntie Blanche ended up with both strands. She's never worn them. She doesn't think they're terribly valuable but they are over 100 years old. She wants ChemE and I to have them.

And now we do. ChemE will probably have hers restrung as the chain is a bit short and I'd like to get mine cleaned and possibly restrung as well, more to match ChemE's than anything else. We will wear them, because it doesn't make sense to us not to. And we're grateful to be asked to carry these things on.

They're a beautiful, unassuming accessory and they made a perfect accent for tonight, a fitting way to ring in the new year.

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