Baubles, Bangles and Bright Shiny Beads

Tara’s SOL yesterday was about losing an earring and how upsetting that can be.  It made me think of the earrings I’ve lost that I am still sad about losing all these years later.  Like the earrings I’m wearing in my just-recently-expired passport photo.  They are big pink-orange faceted lucite drops I bought from Cara Croninger years and years ago.  They are huge and unreasonable, and I loved them like crazy.  How I could lose one without noticing is still beyond me.

And then there was the pair of rough-cut rubies in a sterling setting that I bought in Park Slope one afternoon as I was on my way home to prepare for a date I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on.  We went into Manhattan for dinner and a movie and then wound up back in Brooklyn for drinks at The Gate … which was when I noticed that my right earring was gone.  I made that poor man drive me to every place we’d been so I could search for that earring.  And he did.  Small wonder that our “relationship” didn’t last too long after that.  (Better to let people discover your wacky obsessions after they’ve married you rather than before?!)

It’s safe to say that I love my earrings.  Love them to distraction.  Love them to my own detriment. Case in point: (Warning! Warning! Travel memory coming on!) 

When I was hitching around Europe years ago, I wasn’t very good at following any of the rules.  One I ignored fairly often was the one that said you shouldn’t let yourself be separated from your bag.  That way, if a ride turned sour, you could grab your stuff and fling yourself from the vehicle.  Yes. As if.

Then I hitched from Bordeau to Madrid.  Entering the mountains I had a fun and funny ride with a French trucker who tried to use his radio to find my next ride.  In the end, he had to leave me ride-less on the side of the highway.  It was early still, so I wasn’t worried.  In a few minutes, another truck stopped for me.  The cab was small so the driver put my bag in the back.¹  We started our ride and it became clear pretty quickly that I was in trouble.  Not because I was psychic, but because the driver told me he’d be taking me to Burgos instead of Madrid … and then maybe to Valladolid and if he was done with me after that, he’d decide where to leave me.  I pretended not to understand him, said that no, I really wasn’t interested in seeing Burgos and would much rather get out wherever the road to Madrid split off from the road to Burgos.  He just laughed.

We were further into the mountains, moving more quickly than not. I had no idea where I was, and there was nothing but painful-looking terrain out the window.  Jumping would surely have left me pretty broken, and still not safe from the driver, but I decided to jump.  Yes, it would mean leaving my bag, yes I’d get cut up and maybe break a hand or foot or something, but that had to be better, right?  I had my journal, my toothbrush, my passport and my money in the purse on my lap.  I could figure out clothes after I found my way away from the driver.

So I started looking for a good place to make my move.  I thought a curve in the road would work well, that he wouldn’t be able to see which way I went after I landed. (Because of course I’d actually have been able to move, wouldn’t have just been lying there, stunned and bleeding from the jump.)

Before I found my spot, I realized I couldn’t jump, realized that leaving my bag behind would mean leaving my jewelry, and I just couldn’t do it.

I’m completely serious.  I had a little plastic soap dish full of earrings in that bag.  The whole container probably worth about $20, the soap dish probably more valuable than half the earrings it held.  But they were my earrings.  My big white plastic discs, the ones my best friend said looked like drops of Nivea, were in there.  My fake onyx and marcasite chandeliers, the ones I’d bought at the flea market in Paris, my first “fancy” earrings, were in there.  And all my other cherished pieces of plastic and cheap metal were in there.  I could leave my clothes and shoes behind, but how could I leave my earrings?

I didn’t jump. I decided to trust that I’d find another way out … and, obviously, I did. Here I am, half a lifetime later writing about it.

So, do I understand Tara’s strong feelings about the loss of her earring? Uh … yeah, I think it’s safe to say I do.


You can find the rest of today’s slices at Two Writing Teachers.


¹ That bag was another rule breaker: I was hitching with a suitcase! A guy later told me I looked like someone’s runaway wife standing there in a dress with a suitcase.


26 thoughts on “Baubles, Bangles and Bright Shiny Beads

  1. Did you really just leave us hanging without telling us how you managed to escape? (With your suitcase and your earrings and your life?)

    As always, you tell an amazing tale.

    I don’t think I have lost any earrings that I loved that intensely. I was sad to lose one of the earrings that John gave me the first year we were dating, as it was the first gift he’d ever given me. I still have the one I didn’t lose, and always imagine that I’ll somehow incorporate it into something else.

    The one lost piece of jewelry that I may never get over was a necklace. I was in first grade when I lost it. I’ve actually been meaning to blog about it.


    1. Sorry! I don’t know what happened to that post. I acutally wrote a quick-tell of the ending just before I published, but it seems to have disappered into the ether. Fear not. That will be my slice for today!

      I’d love to hear your lost-necklace story.


      1. Funny that the end of your post got eaten! It was quite the effective, if unintentional, cliffhanger.

        And now that I have read the end of the story, I find myself wondering more about your earrings, too. Did you know I used to make earrings? Other jewelry, too. I was even known to whip up a set of things to go with an outfit, sometimes even in the hour before going some place. Now I almost never wear jewelry at all, but I still love it.

        I bring this up because I have this urge to send you a pair of my earring creations. How do you feel about dangly hammered silver and beads? Any colors that you especially love (or loathe)?


        1. I didn’t know you used to make earrings. I will admit to being very curious! I, too, have the tendancy to make things right before I plan to use/wear them. I still tend to make clothes this way. Just tonight I considered trying to make a new skirt to wear to an event I’m attending tomorrow night. Happily, I chose knitting and dinner over crazy cutting and sewing!

          As for earrings, dangly hammered silver ones sound lovely …


          1. So I was thinking about this long-lost offer to send you some alejna-designed earrings. The trouble is that I have trouble making decisions! Which to send? Send some old ones, or make some new? What colors? How big? So, can you give me a thought about what color scheme you’d like? I typically have either glass or stone beads with the silver. So, bright or muted or dark? Warm or cool colors? Any color(s) in particular you’d love to have represented in some earrings?


  2. I totally agree with alejna. I need to know the rest. I have one pair of earrings — a tiny pair of diamond studs bought by my husband. I would trade them gladly for a larger set of diamond studs, but I’d probably have to get my holes redone. Nope, totally don’t get this obsession. But it was a great story,


  3. Sitting here reading this and shaking my head and agreeing whole heartedly. I can do fine without rings, bracelets, necklaces but I feel naked without earrings. Excellent post. And yeah – how did you finally escape?


    1. Definitely naked without earrings. I’ve actually had to leave my office and go down the street and buy a pair on the few days I’m somehow left the house without them!


  4. Yes! You did another hitching through Europe story. I fondly remember slicing years ago and coming upon your travel tales. You are masterful at weaving humor into stories of your journeys.


    1. Thanks, Becky. I have so many of those stories. I haven’t written one in a while, and wasn’t thinking I’d write one when I started, but I felt it coming on and just let it go … !


  5. Mary S

    You drew me in and kept me intrigued. I felt adventurous with you, scared for you, and then– wanted to shake you and scream–“Jump, jump!”

    Thank you for sharing this!


  6. Not that earrings hold such fascination for me (for my wife, they matter enormously, so I maintain awareness) however, I do understand the connection to personal treasures. Our connection to them can sometimes make us lose perspective. Their emotional value often outweighs their monetary worth, but it doesn’t matter, it’s thought of losing something we are attached to that drives our thoughts and actions. Your piece as always was rich in critical detail for your readers. It was audience centered. You took us with you as the story cleverly moved to a new setting. I also loved the fact that you took me back to Park Slope! A bonus memory…


  7. I am pretty sure I would walk a thousand miles before I stuck my thumb out and asked a stranger for a ride. My mother and her girlfriends made sure that I would never do such a thing by filling my head with horrific stories from their youth. However, I am fascinated by the idea and so glad that I can live vicariously through your adventure. I am wondering if you still have any of the earrings that were in your bag and how in the world you got out of that situation! Thanks so much for sharing.


    1. I can’t really imagine hitching today. Even when I did it, I wouldn’t have dared try it at home in the States. It just seemed so much more normal and safe when I was in Europe … though, obviously, not always so safe!

      Funny you should ask about the earrings I risked my life for. I was thinking about that this morning on my way to work. I probably have most of them in a box somewhere in my closet, but they moved out of wearing-rotation years ago. My taste/style has changed so much since then. There is one pair — my second fake onyx and marcasite — that I put on every once in a great while when I’m feeling nostalgic for that time.


  8. Fabulous! Oh my goodness, what a story.

    Odd, I don’t believe I’ve ever lost a single earring (knock on wood!), but I’ve lost every ring that’s ever meant anything to me… from the little costume rings someone gave me when I was about seven, to the 1930s ring Erik gave me for our engagement and wedding. Aughhhhh.


      1. Me too. 😦 That was several years ago but I still get so frustrated when I think of it! Lately I’ve been wanting a new ring, though, because I just love them. I’m thinking I should get a shiny, magpie-satisfying, blingy inexpensive bauble to train myself not to lose my rings. ;b


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