Did any of you watch soap operas? In the days before reality TV, YouTube, and Twitter/Facebook, they were the only way to indulge in daily, trivial, calming time spent on other people’s supposed problems. Remember the guy intoning, “All The Days Of Your Lives…”?
Those are my pearls. Up above. Really more than necessary. I’d say I didn’t know how I got what seems to be so many, but I do. I know.
In the last century, High WASPs had so much money they bought jewelry for their babies. Yes. They did. That bar pin? For a baby. I wear it on lapels now. Plunder from my mother’s jewelry box, something I engaged in as a teenager as often as possible. I don’t know why she let me. Oh the diamond stick pins I have lost. One in Buffalo, New York, of all places.
When I turned 21, I asked my father for a pearl necklace. Instead, he gave me pearl studs. I cried. There were mitigating circumstances. My parents had just divorced and many things otherwise tolerable made me cry. Being the sort of father who really didn’t mean to make me sad, he then took me to visit the pearl dealer a friend of mine had recommended. And bought a strand of matched 7mm Mikimotos. Which you will see below, because I had them made into something else. What? Pearls are flexible like that.
Finally, a friend of mine got married a year or so after we graduated college. The little freshwater bracelet was a bridesmaid’s present. The groom wore a kilt. Our bridesmaid dresses were yellow gauze with green edging on lettuce ruffles. They are no longer married. She is quite happy with husband number two.
Above we see the pearls of middle adulthood. The earrings from a modern day gypsy, for my wedding. Mabe pearls from my sister, given her by a friend, daughter of an alcohol fortune. The friend died, in a scuba accident. These things sound flippant, made up, but they weren’t. Even the random parts of life eventually mean something.
I wore the earrings to sell nitrogen to semiconductor companies in the 1980’s. Do we think large button earrings will return, in the wake of leggings? They did confer a certain authority, even on those of us scared to death by our negotiation responsibilities.
The pendant was from my stepsister. She had kindly asked me to be the maid of honor at her wedding. Not one of my finest hours, in retrospect. Sometimes people don’t want highly intellectual toasts at their rehearsal dinners, in which laughter on the eve of marriage is somehow celebrated by references to death. I meant well.
I bought a bracelet in India but the pearls disintegrated. I’m thinking they weren’t pearls. The purchase was fun, however, and the tea I drank while sitting on pillows in the afternoon sun, delicious.
And finally, the pearls of our 50’s. It’s possible to gain confidence with age. Pearl audacity may follow. Purple gray earrings in 22k, with diamonds, a present from my mother. Daniel Gibbings, Santa Barbara. An 8.5mm necklace, 8.5-9mm earrings with small diamond accents, the original necklace from my father now a 3-strand bracelet. And yes, I will wear all the white ones together for the right occasion. With impunity. Because I play the Grande Dame as often as I can carry it off. For work, however, just the necklace, with diamond studs, took me into the New York Stock Exchange and back out alive in September 2008. As the stock market fell around us. A cameraman tried to interview me as I walked down Wall Street. I told him I had nothing to say. Seriously.
I suppose it’s time to do with the pearls what we do with everything in our 50’s, throw away or transform. I’m leaning towards transformation. Thinking about having something made, an over-the-top pair of earrings, or a brooch. Maybe with the random little bitty diamonds that have also accumulated. Less room for clutter at this stage, even when it’s opalescent. Even though it turns out to be awfully fun to rummage around in pearls with one’s fingers.
*And if the gray earrings in the last photo appear to be Photoshopped in, that’s because they are. Not due to non-existence, but because I am a forgetter-head and forgot to include them and by that point had reached the end of my patience for fidgeting with multiple pearls in a light box. Not sure whether to celebrate my new technical skills or mourn my lost capability to remember.