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.