Sunday, January 15, 2006

the bracelet

When I turned 22, my ex-boyfriend gave me this bracelet.

We were already ex’s, had been since the fall (my idea) after about two years together, five as friends. As two writers with birthdays within a few days of each other, we gave each other books, always.

Not this year. The year after I left him, he gave me gift after gift, each small, hand-crafted, more perfect than the next: a nightlight with a green sunflower scrim (I am afraid of the dark); a red-haired angel to hang above my bed (I am afraid of the dark); a book of Gustav Klimt paintings, a Virginia Woolf journal, and the bracelet: orange Chinese wood beads.

It’s supposed to be good luck, he said.

I gave him books.

If you have seen me give a reading in the past six years, or talk on a panel, or teach a class, or sing in a bar, or do anything which causes my heart to beat faster, I have been wearing this bracelet. I was wearing it the day I saw him in a bar in Vancouver, five years after we said goodbye in a frat house parking lot, four years after we stopped speaking or writing. We started speaking again.

I lay my hand on the bar to order.

I recognize that bracelet, he said.

The elastic is stretched out and the beads are dirty, and I don’t wear it so much as carry it: in a zipped pocket of my bag, always. And I don’t carry it for luck so much as reassurance: that we go on, that concern goes on even after we’ve dumped or done the dumping, that care lasts beyond breaking, that love lasts beyond losing, always.