Do you find that odd little things can make your history clearer all at once?
Last week I read Tana French’s latest mystery, The Secret Place. I love her stuff. This takes place at an exclusive girl’s school outside of Dublin, and derives no small part of its color from the magical rites of teenagers. As I read, the High WASP in me spoke severely, “Over the top!” The prose seemed too purple, the supernatural happenings too preposterous.
And then I remembered actually being a teen and pre-teen. Took an effort, almost a quantum leap to put myself back in that time. Those years when pretend was as real as real. I went through puberty feeling magic, as though my life was being read out loud to me by James Earl Jones, portentous, deep. I was almost certainly a little weird – but maybe we all are at that age?
Recently I also realized that by coincidence, or vibration, two readers of this blog run small businesses so reflective of my particular young oddities, I want to cry “Sorcery!” or, “The universe is speaking!” Of course, High WASPs don’t say that in public.
On the other hand, we’ll talk jewelry any day of the week. This is from our friend, Patsy. Ah, Cape Cod.
We were all 11 going on 12, once. I spent that summer in sailing camp at the Wianno Yacht Club. I don’t know why it seemed so magical.
Maybe the independence of small boats and medium-sized kids helming them without adults? The snack bar with hamburgers ours for a signature? The surprise of small islands? The rumble of my parents’ slowly-failing marriage? Or maybe my own tan arms and white blonde hair? Had I know then how beautiful we are at that age, would anything have been different?
No, maybe it was Capsizing Day. We learned to escape after surfacing under a smothering sail. I remember the light in between the sea’s surface and the white sheet, and breathing to remain calm. I could have used that lesson better, later.
In any case, Patsy Kane lives and works in Marblehead, Massachusetts. She sails, for real, and makes jewelry that authentically reflects the lifestyle. Some of you may be familiar with Kiel James Patrick, and while I wish the young man all success in his endeavors, his marketing imagery presents a set of youth who glow differently than I remember. I don’t need someone else to manufacture magic – it comes from my own memories. Patsy’s Navigator bracelet, engraved with coordinates of one’s choice, locate one’s time and space so specifically.
Unsurprisingly, she also does casual pearls.
On the other end of the talismanic spectrum, we find Pamela Gene Daley, and the business she runs with her husband, Mark Defrates.
A talisman should be specific and derived from something you lived. For me it could in fact be a pentagram. Imagine, if you can spare a minute, a standard high school gym, up in the hills above San Francisco Bay’s hot dry eastern side. Two teenage girls on the yellow wood floor dancing badly to a group called Pentangle. Probably wearing cotton skirts, and footless tights. Believing all the while that they were calling powers. It’s silly, poignant, and, although I know full well what a ninny I was, a little awe-inspiring. That time in our lives, we transition in ways that no one can yet fully explain. So teen drama maybe enacts stronger forces, like pretty shadow puppets.
When I was young, life seemed linear. First this happened, then this next thing, then something else. Each event took so much consciousness to process, I lived it in fragments.
It still takes a lot, to be a person, But now I suspect that some of who we feel ourselves to be can be simply told. For me, in the shift from sailboats off Wianno to witchcraft in California. For you, something else. We are our transitions, but we only know ourselves when we’re still. Maybe that’s the point of talismans, to change times of transition into something you can hold between finger and thumb.
The Amazon link is affiliate. No compensation has been received from Patsy or Pamela. In fact I suspect this post comes as somewhat of a surprise to both of them.