In Which There Was A Broken Strand

I took Daniel to see the movie ‘Jackie’, thinking it was going to cover more about her entire life and womanhood in general. I didn’t realize the movie would begin with the assassination of her husband and never, ever, move on. Together we saw through a very grim story and I found myself relating to the first lady who had never really owned anything, merely walked among it, before unexpectedly being separated from everything. What would happen to me, being in a relationship that was heavily-dependent on the title owner? What will come of my haphazard blueprints for Camelot?

When the movie was over I grabbed my purse and stood up to leave. The house lights were still off but the credits were scrolling, and Dan pulled my chair back down again. I thought he wanted me to make sure I hadn’t left anything so I started to raise my purse to show him I was on top of it… then he grabbed my hand and said, “Sit down.”

He looked up and I could see the light of the screen reflecting off the tears streaming down his face. He didn’t want to leave because he had started to cry, lost in his own similarities between Jackie’s loss and his own. I felt bad for him, sat down and told him I was sorry.

On our way out of the theater, my pearl necklace broke. Without a sound, the little beads quickly rolled down my shirt and began to sprawl across the carpeted lobby. I was in a bit of shock, empathizing with Dan, and seeing my broken jewelry going everywhere felt entirely surreal. It felt like a moment, that’s supposed to be saying something, only I couldn’t understand other than the part that said THIS IS NOT PERFECT AND NOT GOOD.

“Oh my gosh, her pearls!” a woman yelled before bending down to gather them. Then there were more people, all older, all lowered to the floor to retrieve the beads for me. I was speechless. I was thinking of Jackie’s pearls, the movie, my life, and how things just don’t always go the way you intend them to.

It’s difficult to come up with an answer for what’s good about a problem. Sometimes I just want the problem to be eliminated, and not have to work with it. I want to figure out how to change it, get as close to making it go away, than move in the direction of appreciation.

For example, the bird feeder in my back yard has caused me a lot of stress in the past. Dan agonizes over what to switch around if and when squirrels figure out a way to reach the seed. I have to plant around it. I’ve gotten pissed about the mess the birds leave, how the seed casings seem to pierce fragile hosta leaves and attract animals that like to devour my plants. I have hated the bird feeder.

But today I saw it, blanketed in snow, unable to hurt any living things underneath it, and I saw something different. I saw a variety of birds eating from the different hanging feeders; I saw a unit working as it is intended to. I saw the tall shepherd’s hook that must have come from my boyfriend’s late wife, my own feeder working well off one of the hooks and the energy my boyfriend has used to pull everything together so the birds could eat. Everything combined to create something nice, and the beauty of it really touched me.

Something like a bird feeder out under the tree is so easy to ignore, but I felt like I really saw it today, the trifecta of caring people. Suddenly it was much easier to answer what was good about it. Suddenly, it worked.

I have hated living in a pre-furnished house. It hasn’t felt like me, like my home, but rather like a museum I’m not supposed to touch. I have HATED having my things stored in bins and closets and being unable to play with colors, textures and style.

Rather than resolve to be entirely against the cluttered shelves of blue porcelain, I decided to work with it yesterday. I took everything off the china cabinet and divided it in to “looks like a nicer piece” and “fucking hate this awful shit”. Then I shopped the house and pulled different mediums that all fit a color pallet and just started redesigning.

Something as simple as an old tin would show me a parallel between its colors and the rose on my teacup…then I could see a matching saucer from another cupboard, and eventually I could work other colors on to the blue hell shelves. I could work my things in to her things, in his house, although it made me nervous to try. Dan doesn’t like change. In his head, the exposed interior walls and hanging speaker cords are pure perfection because they were from a time when everything was perfect and he had his saintly wife, so even making an improvement can result in backlash, argument and hurt feelings. I try to remind myself that it is touching, how firmly he believed in his Camelot, how strong his grip is on it – even if not always for the better.

When I was done, even the “hate this shit” items gave their weight and contrast to balancing the final result. Everything had a place. And it began to live, breathe and tell a story. Something as basic as decorative shelving gave me a rewarding feeling I can’t begin to describe. I wasn’t embarrassed by the design. I wanted to be in there. I had created love.

Top it off with a table cloth from my lifetime ago, like an old friend thought dead, and I could have just cried.


I still can’t arrive to any certain message from my broken pearl necklace. Maybe a message isn’t really a message if you can’t clearly understand it, or maybe some of them are meant to be understood later on. I just know that I love the beautiful things, want for them, tell myself that they WILL BE MINE… but what is beautiful and what can be possessed is always changing, coming and going, like loved ones, like birds to a feeder.