I stared at the photo of me with the boy magician I posted for my 40th “Happy Day” today. And it was, the few hours spent there. Call me vain for looking at myself and you’d be wrong. I studied that girl, as I just can’t call her “woman,” like a painting in a museum. Blinked once and I saw my mom. Blinked again, my dad. OK, I closely inspected my nose in search of the Charlize Theron “likeness” my friend, L, finds. Nope, not even when I squinted, but we’re our worst critics, aren’t we? Jilly, that’s whose nose I saw.
Speaking of which, she gave me the dark green sweater I wore. Mom knitted the colorful skinny scarf looped around my neck. After the ex and I separated, I started that silver ring collection. My wedding band was gold and “nothing gold can stay.” I’d stopped wearing it a while before when it wouldn’t fit over my RA-swollen finger. At first, images of it cutting off circulation and gangrene–seriously–had me removing it each night before bed. Then one morning…I wonder if he noticed its absence.
I lacked that bride’s desire for a “carat” and we lacked the funds, anyway. He bought me a pair of diamond stud earrings, though. Weddings and families and society place importance on the silliest things and he probably felt obliged. They were lovely and I wore them often until one earlobe reacted badly and they hurt to put on. Once something fancy did catch my eye–diamond tennis bracelets–and several times that year I pointed out a favorite to him. Christmas came and I got an aquamarine and diamond silver necklace. Too meek to speak up, I said how pretty it was, and it was, but I never wore it.
I gave the necklace to a college friend whose birthstone was aquamarine, and the earrings to another in her early 20’s. I kept the Skagen watch. The ex chose perfectly that time. I gazed at it on my wrist in the photo, too. Grateful. For better or for worse…
I’d outfitted myself in love and loss, growth and confidence. My face, eyes, hair, hands, skin, and expressions a culmination of many. I just blink.