I bought earrings at Old Navy the other day, three pairs of gemlike plastic oblongs in deepening shades of blue. They’re cute, little eye-catching bits of color that I like to dither over: does this one go best with the chambray shorts, or this one?

They were all of nine dollars, or three dollars a pair, if you want to think of it that way. I’ve bought enough earrings lately that I got a special jewelry tray with a velvety grid to store them in. My favorites are the swooshy gold leaflike danglers from Cost Plus World Market, but the giant sparkly beaded hoops from Target are a runner-up.

When did I finally try a pair of delightful cheap earrings, after an entire lifetime of believing I could only tolerate fancy metals? I’ve worn the same gorgeous but subdued studs forever, convinced the fun stuff just wasn’t for me. I remember, years ago, the flaming itchiness of aggravated ears, a flush that would spread to my cheeks. Maybe just a particularly crappy piece of jewelry, or maybe somewhere along the line my ears stopped being hoity-toity about what got jammed up in their holes? (Well! That took an unpleasant turn.)

Anyway. My point is, there is an entire new world that’s open to me, adornment-wise! I’ve gone the minimalist route with jewelry for a very long time and I’m charmed by the peacockiness of adding spangles to my own self. It’s pleasing in the same way stringing a trail of sparkle lights on the mantle is: a bit of shine, a little something extra.

Duh, you’re probably thinking. So you’ve discovered ACCESSORIZING. I know, I know. It’s a small thing. But a reminder that there are plenty of happy surprises left in life.

When we did our family rafting trip on the Rogue River last month I spent quite a bit of time in an inflatable kayak, mostly paddling along but also navigating some actual no-shit rapids. Here’s the thing I could never have predicted in about a million years: I was pretty damned good at it. “You’re a natural,” shouted our guide at one point, and you guys, I cannot tell you what that did for me. Like no big deal but go ahead and etch it on my gravestone, okay? A natural at whitewater kayaking.

It’s true I managed to get dumped at one point so perhaps it’s a bit early to call myself a natural, but it was a scary thing and I was brave enough to do it, and not only was it fun, it was like dancing across the water. Like feeling some great cosmic torrent of energy and being fully plugged into it, like being deeply alive on every level. Like being a purposeful part of the world.

It’s all too easy to get tunnel vision, these days. I mean in the narrowed-in sense, but also in the sense that there is darkness all around us. It feels helpless, like being swept in a current of shit. But then there are all these gifts, these moments of beauty big and small.

I don’t really know where I’m going and I never have. Lately, though, I feel like I’m on the surface of things. Dancing, even. Wearing, like, the most adorable earrings.


13 Responses to “Sparkle lights”

  1. Judith on August 8th, 2019 1:35 pm

    Another thing you are really good at, lady: writing!

  2. Julie on August 8th, 2019 2:08 pm

    Thanks for reminding me that not ALL things aging are bad (what? I can no longer disgest MEAT? super). I might just go buy some sparkles myself to celebrate!

  3. Kim on August 8th, 2019 4:20 pm

    I had a similar experience this summer, while on my trip-of-a-lifetime Alaskan cruise. One of our excursions was taking 4-wheelers up a mountain, which unbeknownst to me, involved ME driving the ATV. My first reaction was, as always, OH HELL NAW, but in a burst of brave, I got behind the wheel and it ended up being my favorite part of the entire trip (and that’s saying something). You’re so right about appreciating the unexpected beautiful things – especially in these insane times.

  4. Laura on August 8th, 2019 4:31 pm

    Such a beautiful essay, thank you for this! It was just what I needed to read today.

  5. Robyn on August 8th, 2019 4:59 pm

    This is so beautiful and such a wonderful reminder about the happy surprises that are left. This made my day! You’re a natural at writing (and at whitewater kayaking!).

  6. kelly on August 8th, 2019 5:50 pm

    I felt almost the same way today when I found out about Butterfly Fries (if you don’t know, please google). They were described to me as God’s gift to potatoes. It’s a great feeling to know there is still delicious junk food out there to discover! Life is not over! 😂

  7. C on August 8th, 2019 6:49 pm

    Well, I did not expect to cry today and yet, here we are! The phrase “a reminder that there are plenty of happy surprises left in life” really got me. Thank you for that reminder. Apparently I needed to hear it.

  8. Sandy on August 9th, 2019 5:43 am

    This post made me smile and spoke to me!!! Loved all your thoughts, As always thanks for sharing

  9. Leandra on August 10th, 2019 5:17 am

    I love this. At 46 I’m growing out a pixie and am embracing newly discovered curly hair and the bigger it is, the more I like it. I’m also pairing the new hair with new, big, sparkly, dangly earrings. I want to take up space. With all the therapy I’ve been doing and the soul searching and the figuring me out, I feel like I’ve been found a new (but also the old me?) me and I like her.

  10. Sundry on August 10th, 2019 10:58 am

    Leandra, I love that — “I want to take up space.” So true! I feel that bigtime, here at 45.

  11. Mackenna on August 10th, 2019 10:22 pm

    This reminded me… In my youth and twenties I wore black clothes, a lot of black clothes with very little color and then older me suddenly embraced vibrant colors. I can’t imagine going back to blah black or black and white. I’d like to start wearing hats but am so self-conscious about it for some reason. I guess I’m a little stuck in the mud on jewellery too. Wear the same earrings nearly every day. You’ve given me pause for thought about this.

  12. Kristin on August 11th, 2019 7:38 am

    I love this! There will still be excitement and surprises in life! Yea!

    I have almost the same exact earring history lately. Ear problems about 10 years ago from earrings. I stopped wearing them and just re-started last year with all kinds of flashy earrings and now I can wear almost any one!

  13. Jill on August 15th, 2019 4:01 am

    Leandra’s comment reminded me of a poem I saw read a bunch of years ago (apparently 6) so I had to look it up. I will assume that if I saw it all of you have also seen it, but in case not here it is:

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