I’ve been contemplating another post on this first blog site for awhile (because a year is just a ridiculous amount of time to wait) and I just haven’t felt the right time until NOW.
Last night I witnessed an end-of-an-era party at a local record store called Easy Street Records (Queen Anne location) and it was the second time in a month I’ve been bittersweet about something…
Last summer her last words on the phone to me were “I love you” and of course my reply to my grandmother was “I love you too!”. Little did I realize that less than 4 months later she would be gone and I would be standing in a record store thinking of her while watching a crowd full of DJ-dancing youth party like it’s 1999.
Grandma had led an interesting life… as most over 80-year old people can claim. If you think about it, your life will probably be somewhat interesting if you live for at least 80 years (or more) too! But my grandma had skeleton’s that hadn’t been known to the family or me until the end of 2012 when we opened up her jewelry case.
Like a lot of women I know (especially me), jewelry holds significance in our lives. It holds a place and time for the person we received it from, the environment in which it was given, the occasion and especially the memories of all three in our minds. My association with jewelry has had me triumphantly hawk a Tiffany & Co. 3 1/2 carat diamond and platinum wedding ring just to be able to rent a UHaul and leave him! I say triumphantly because I LOVED that ring! BUT, he told me I had no money (and no ability in his mind) to him. But through that significant piece of jewelry between us, that is just what I did!
Jewelry, especially if it is kept for a significant time in a woman’s life is certain to hold deep memories for her, and my grandmother was no different. One of her jewelry cases had photos of her old love from high school when he was a boy of only 7! She held her memories of voters cards, work pins and newspaper clippings of her youngest (my mother) with her other buried “treasures”. Almost as if we would find them and put together the pieces of her life through her jewelry.
And you know what? We did just that. While rummaging to see what this was and what that was and who might want to inherit it we pieced together a lifetime of love and loss (and some serious questions) from those pieces of metal, jewels, plastic, paper & decor. We pieced together a life that exchanged many different gifts for different occasions and different eras. Her love losses became bittersweet by adding the extra understanding of family diaries and stories to the mix… until her jewelry case became a way for me to cry and release her memory in my own moment. For a woman that lost husbands through divorce, suicide, accident and concious choice these pieces of jewelry were her story to read again each time she opened up the lid or held one in her hand.
From one of the diaries of others I surmised that this one bracelet, a charm bracelet, held a discovery that would eventually change the direction of her life forever. So when I came upon the bracelet I immediately wanted it to carry this realization into my own world by wearing it. But then I looked at it and the second box holding the charms and realized that she never had even opened it, let alone wore it?! This trip that started the collection of this jewelry bracelet was never fully realized by my grandmother, sadly. A woman that always told me that I was great at whatever I was doing… a woman that touted my praises everyday and made me feel 10 feet tall when I would talk to her. She never even opened up her own adventure and wore it for herself?
The charms are from all over the country, they come from different time periods with different costs from many different stores and tourist shops. They are all silver, all perfect and ALL just waiting, patiently for somebody to finally put them on!
My favorite is a Space Needle charm that looks like it could have been from the World’s Fair by the price tag on it.
I almost couldn’t stand putting the bracelet together and wearing it for the first time, but the obstacle that my grandmother never realized in her own life by wearing her adventure wasn’t going to hold me back too! This woman who always told me that I was a strong person and could achieve anything made me realize that I HAD to wear it, if only for her!
Which leads me to the second bittersweet moment last night that made me realize this was my next post…
That Space Needle charm.
The Easy Street Record shop had been in this location for over a decade and grown quite a following in Seattle for having impromptu acts show up and perform as well as knowledgable staff who have become a welcome addition to many industries in the area.
I walked in off the street and toured the rummaged racks, the youthful grunge-esque style party crowd was drinking PBR and Rainier to the beats. The mature cliental gently looking over titles one by one as if drinking a fine scotch, sip by sip and savoring every moment.
I picked up my camera and started shooting odds and ends and found myself right in front of a pile of CD’s with New Order’s Substance 1987 sitting right on top. This was my GO-TO music way back when! One of my first loves of music was playing this cassette over and over again until I bought the CD in which I did the same thing for probably 20 years. But somehow I lost it a while ago and never thought about it again until now. So I reached to pick it up and my charm bracelet dangled in front of me, specifically the Space Needle charm. I immediately realized this store is right in the shadow of the Space Needle, I’m sitting here feeling melancholy about my youthful music choices and the closing of the store and WOAH! I had a major rush of bittersweet wave shock throughout my body! My face actually became flush and I sat there for a moment, in that loud-rowdy room full of strangers and sat with that feeling of love and loss.
In a sort of euphoric haze I walked around a bit more looking at the crowds, the mess, the empty Dicks hamburger wrappers on the displays and then the neon caught my eye and I snapped a picture.
It wasn’t until I came home and started editing the photo that I knew the caption for this post, this story, for my grandmother’s story, for Easy Street Record’s story. It wasn’t until now that I realized that it really is the story for all of us in the end whether it came from a CD, a record, a bracelet that was never worn… the story is still there, still realized by many people in many different ways. I just happened to capture the caption of so many people and places in life through this one picture, in this one place that both worlds seemed to collide for me last night. And all it said to me was…
I was HERE. (and that’s really all that matters in the end anyways)
Love you grandma! You will always be HERE, right in my heart (and sometimes on my wrist!)