I’m fascinated by the stories behind clothing and accessory choices. Even the most mundane pieces often have some associated narrative that speaks to our history or dreams. Jewelry given as a gift or bought for oneself can be particularly fraught with meaning. Jessica Key’s story about her new necklace is a perfect example. Jess is another superstar from the VIU creative writing program. She recently completed her course work for the SFU Master of Publishing program and she has marvelous Hepburn-esque elegance. I recall her maintaining an admirable level of polish and put-togetherness at the end of term when the rest of us had lapsed into elastic waistbands and stained sweatshirts. She’s also a wonderful storyteller and capable of great grace and honesty in her writing, as this piece makes clear.
I bought this necklace about a month ago during a shopping spree that was mostly filled with book buying for Author for Indies day. A friend that I had dragged along had wanted to go into Hunter and Hare since it was right beside Pulp Fiction, and I aimlessly browsed the jewelry while she palmed through racks of clothing. I don’t usually wear jewelry, and I don’t really believe in horoscopes, and I’ve never been able to actually identify a constellation, but I was drawn to a series of necklaces that depicted the stars of the zodiac. They were thin gold charms that hung on delicate gold chains, and I knew the length would be perfect would be perfect from first blush. Collarbone skimming. Not so short as to be difficult to fasten myself, but not so long that it would serve as a little golden arrow pointing straight to my breasts. I ended up buying the one that was my sign, Pisces, and I’ve worn it every day since.
Up until a few days ago, I was in a relationship. I actually lived with my partner. Throughout our time together he had bought me two difference necklaces, both which had broken between one day to two weeks after they were given to me. He promised he would fix them, but life got in the way and it never happened. Acknowledging that this is incredibly lame, buying myself a new necklace instead of waiting for someone else to fix one for me was liberating. I felt free again, not needing to depend on anyone else for (unbroken) jewelry.
Our relationship didn’t end because he never fixed the necklaces or because I can’t take care of nice things. Being in a masters degree changed me. It made me realize how seriously I wanted to be in publishing, and that it was worth staying at school late at night to do my homework. I was miserable occasionally from stress, and the fact that eating Pad Thai every day for lunch was making my favourite jeans fit weird, but I was also deliriously happy every time I completed a project. But my schedule changed, and I wasn’t able to do the things that he and I had originally bonded over. I had changed and he had not, and that was a problem for both of us.
I had never experienced a relationship slowly deteriorate in this way. There had always been a big reason, a climax in the story. This felt like a very long denouement. We slowly were becoming roommates, but we were roommates that fought about a lot of things. Breaking up is terribly sad. There are a lot of things that I own that will remind me of him for a very long time. But this necklace is mine. I bought it and if, or when, I break it—I will fix it myself.