Saturday, January 2, 2010

Objects: Nostalgic Necklaces

There are stories here. There are stories in our objects. A few days ago, my neighbors packed up their possessions and moved to a new state. They've been living without their things in a new apartment, waiting for the movers to deliver. They're sleeping on an air mattress, sitting in lawn chairs. They feel a little lost...adrift. I would too.
Last night, my friends (the Lupinacci family) watched their home burn to the ground. They lost everything but a few musical instruments and their lives. They are thanking God they survived.
Earl lives under the bridge with nothing. He wants nothing. He accepts food and occasional help, but wants no possessions. What does he dream about? He lives his life in his mind.
With those things in mind, I'm sorting through the messy rubble of my life, trying to make some sense of it all. I have so much...and so much is taken for granted. Too much. But there are stories to tell, as I put these things away, or in their proper places. The stories hold the value. Not the things. (Please pray for my friends).
In the picture above, you see three necklaces. The longest of the three is made of beads tied on leather. It's called an "Evil Eye" necklace; an old, interesting custom that I first encountered at a conference at Muhlenberg College on the holocaust. A woman there was wearing an intricate collection of necklace trinkets, which I found interesting. I commented on them; she told me they were for avert "the evil eye". I researched the subject, and found that many cultures wear objects of protection. Crosses, medals, beads, amulets. The "protection" comes from their particular faith. These beads are one of the simplest, most primitive forms of this type of belief structure.
The next necklace is a sterling silver kayaker with a brass paddle. Peter bought it for me when we attended the National Paddling Film Festival in Lexington Kentucky with our friend John. We came back to Pennsylvania and John founded the Lehigh Valley Canoe Club Paddling Film Festival, which has raised thousands of dollars for river conservation and river sports. John died two years ago. We loved John. We miss him.
The last, and shortest necklace is a Belizean zodiac symbol for the dates between October 24 and Nov. 12. I have absolutely no idea what it means or represents. It's simply the period that includes my birthday (and John's, who took us to Belize). I think of that wonderful place, and our last times together when I see it.
Objects. Things. They spark my memory.
More to come.

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