Today’s earrings came from my mother. She received them as a gift from a friend who’d taken a trip to Fiji. My mother wore them a few times, but they’re not her style.
My mother, her friend, and I have spent time together, going to Mackinac Island, eating meals together, watching fireworks from a deck on Lake Michigan. So, a few years after my mother received these earrings, she gave them to me.
I haven’t worn them since the pandemic started in 2020. They aren’t wear-with-a-pair-of-blue-jeans-and-a-T-shirt earrings. But today I think I pulled it off. I wore a navy-blue turtleneck, a pale blue sweater and blue jeans. And when I left the house in the afternoon rain, I wore a dark-blue rain jacket with a sophisticated yet subtle tone-on-tone print. The earrings and rain jacket could be soulmates. (If you’re wondering, Anna Wintour never worries when I talk fashion.)
These earrings remind me of a ride in the backseat of a rented midsized sedan from Kohler, Wisconsin, to Milwaukee in July 2010.
I sat in the middle of the backseat because it was my turn to sit in the middle. And because no one cared about my moderate claustrophobia.
As I slid into the center of the seat, I remembered a surgeon’s advice before I had an MRI: “Close your eyes before you enter the tube and don’t open them.”
My mother drove out of the parking lot. I tilted my head back and closed my eyes. I asked my sister-in-law, who sat to my right, to tell me about her scuba diving trip to Bali.
I asked why she wanted to learn to scuba dive. She has lived in Arizona all her life.
I asked her how she learned. Pools were involved.
I asked her about the dangers. There’s a lot that can go wrong on a dive.
I asked her about the world under the waves.
For fifty miles, a blue-green ocean teaming with exotic fish, coral reefs, and scuba divers screened on my eyelids. For every question I asked, she wove a narrative taking me out of the middle of that backseat. I kept my eyes closed.
These earrings remind me of Fiji, my mother, and her friend.
These earrings remind me of Bali, my sister-in-law, and fifty miles of scuba diving adventures.
I know Fiji is not Bali. My sister-in-law hasn’t met my mother’s friend. These earrings didn’t exist in July 2010.
Doesn’t matter. Neurons forge our networks of memories.
Every time I wear these earrings, I return to my happy place in the waters of Bali among fish and reefs and divers—a place I’ve never been.