“The thing that differentiates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize”. – Clairee Belcher in Steel Magnolias. (A total chick flick of unparalleled magnitude.)
Over the years, I have accumulated a lot of costume jewelry, especially after my mother died. Some are necklaces given by old boyfriends that are of sentimental value after a fashion. Sometimes I even think of the giver. Most of it is of many colors and little value. I even have a fraternity pin and a lavalier. I guess that means I am still “promised” to “that loser” (as my friends still refer to him). But I remember it was just that he refused to take it back even when I threw it at him. It was a major lesson in the realization that just because someone likes you doesn’t mean you HAVE to make THIS work. Secondary lesson in pay attention to actions rather than words. Now I can look at the heart necklaces he gave me in a sweeping romantic and collegiate budget gesture, smile and remember his intentions at the time rather than the detritus that followed.
Other than my wedding set, my husband has given me some lovely earrings. I love earrings. I try not to leave home without putting a pair in the two holes I went to the mat with my father over about forty years ago. Fashion and tenacity won ; perceived barbarism and savagery lost.
With the costume jewelry and my mom’s pearls, the two small jewelry boxes had long ago become a tangled mass of paste and pave’. For Christmas, I asked for and received a newer jewelry box which would force me to organize and untangle everything currently residing in the drawers. Out here, jewelry doesn’t really get worn except to state occasions. Like lodge meetings. Too impractical and, in some cases, “uppity”. Ranchers know they are married and don’t need to lose a finger on the prairie over it. In town, they can tell you who is happily married without a golden circular scorecard. This is a far cry from the bling-bling of my former home where I actually had a woman complain that her four carat flashlight was too small and she needed to go bigger. Seriously.
One snowy afternoon, I grabbed my cup of tea and parked myself in the closet and set to work. Untangling the pieces and finding matches among the earrings was peaceful and refreshing in a way that took my by surprise.
Working from home is about comfort. It is about returning from the gym and staying in your workout clothes all day. Or showering and putting on jeans, a sweatshirt, and slippers and trotting upstairs to figure out what music is going to serenade my creativity that day as well as what current project to attack. No accessorizing warranted or necessary.
But in sitting on the floor of my closet and untangling and organizing, I discovered that I missed finding a purple necklace to go with my purple turtleneck. I missed coordinating that with my silver amethyst ring. I missed accessorizing. It shocked me.
I came to the realization that taking the time to dress for the day, jeans still acceptable, with something nicer than my Fighting Illini sweatshirt meant something to me. Pick out a blouse, or a turtleneck and sweater. Accesorize, baby.
In doing so I realize it meant that I was taking pride in my appearance. It made me feel better, more creative somehow. I was also learning to be tender with myself; to realize that I mattered in this world and the world needed to know that.
It’s not about being flashy. It is aside from establishing my membership as a homo sapien at the top of the animal kingdom food chain, as the character of Clairee pointed out. It is about taking the extra time to care for yourself the way you care for others. Even if it just putting in a pair of silver earrings purchased on a vacation five years ago, just the two of you. What is inside matches the outside.
All this over a pile of costume jewelry. All of which is now fully organized so I can pick something to don each day. Sometimes the process is the revelation.
I’m selling the fraternity pin and the lavalier.