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Yesterday I was trying to come up with a necklace or accessory I hadn’t worn before, and realised there was something missing.  I have a lot of jewellery, enough to fill a large sized box, a smaller box and a travel bag.  And despite that, I’ll usually end up only wearing the same few pieces – so things could go missing and I probably wouldn’t notice…unless they’re important.  And the most important item in my jewellery collection was missing.  21.

It’s the ring I got for my 21st birthday.  My mum wanted to get me a keepsake, and at the time I wore a lot of rings, so we went with that.  It took us quite some time to actually find it – I was looking for something cheap that had certain colours, but when mum finally coaxed what I had in mind, she ended up taking me to quite a pricy boutique, and looking at what they had.  It was something of an amusing story – my mother and the girl helping us had a discussion away from me, and then brought in about 5 rings, including THE ONE.  It was probably what women feel when they get a band on their finger.  When I picked it out, my mum did a little groan/laugh and said “I knew she’d pick that one.”

ImageTurns out it was the most expensive of the batch, which was quite a bit over mum’s intended budget, but when she saw it, she put it in the options anyway because she had a feeling I’d love it.  It’s a gorgeous white gold with diamonds and sapphires, and since that birthday was sort of sacrificed for a job interview, it was nice to have a keepsake.

When I got my office job, I stopped wearing rings since they were awkward while typing, but over the next few years, mum solved her gift giving problems by coordinating with the ring – ended up with earrings and a necklace, both of which I do wear regularly, and both of which I could find…but not 21.

I ended up ripping my jewellery collection apart trying to find it, until I was forced to go work and worry about it later.  The ring is one of the most expensive things I own, but the commercial value isn’t the one that matters to me as much as the sentimental.  It tore at me all day – I was absolutely terrified I wouldn’t be able to find it – especially because it wouldn’t be the first time I’d lost jewellery that was important.

I used to have a battleaxe necklace – it was one of those cheap things you often find in tourist souvenir shops.  Two friends who went on holiday together brought it back for me.  The length was just a little bit longer than choker, which made it great for wearing at school, and I kept wearing it until the chain broke.  Then a few years later, I had the chain fixed, and I started wearing it again.  It got to the point where I was wearing it 5 out of 10 days – practically part of me.  It had no value, but I’d worn it so long that it was priceless to me.  And one day it just vanished.  I tore my room apart, I ripped apart my locker at work, combed the Taekwondo changing rooms with a fine toothed comb…I even put up a poster on notice boards offering a reward for anyone who found it.  But nothing happened, it vanished into the ether, and I found myself dealing with emotional fallout of crazy proportions.  Whenever I was stressed or feeling under the weather I used to grab it and rub it as a confidence booster, but without it, I was knocked off balance.  Ended up having minor panic attacks whenever I got slightly stressed, and had to scramble for a replacement when I travelled to a con (an 8 hour train trip carrying heaps of luggage across the country?  Stressful – relied on a tiny pocket watch with an engraving to get me through it).  It’s been 8 months, but even now I’d give a lot to have it back around my neck.

Eventually, I remembered that I’d worn the ring over Christmas, so it might have ended up in my toiletry bag.  The relief I felt when I got home and found it twinkling away at the bottom of the bag was palpable.  It’s now properly stored for me to wear whenever I want, and my heart rate is back to where it needs to be, and just makes me think of how much value we put in things that are technically superficial.

The necklace and ring are just jewellery, but losing them hurts.  I have an old stuffed rabbit that has the same effect – bought on holiday when I was about 3 and is one of the few toys I’ve managed to save into adulthood.  ImageHe used to have 7 names, none of which I remember except for Thumper.  The parents and myself now refer to him as Flopsy Bouncer.  The fur had aged, the back is ripped open, thread is hanging from his chin and he’s got half a dozen little stains, but he’s worth more than every Steiff bear in the world.  He went missing for a while after multiple moves, until he was found at the bottom of a laundry basket in a shed.  He’s stayed on my bed ever since for safety.

We all have trinkets and objects that don’t necessarily have any real value.  You don’t choose them; their talent is sneaking into your heart without noticing – like a virus slipping past your immune system.  They become a physical manifestation of your emotions – a totem of your positive memories that have power in their very existence.  If we lost them, we’d still have the memories, but not having the assurance of the item shatters your world.  Insurance can’t compensate, and time will only dull the hurt.  All you can do is keep them close, and hope nothing ever happens to them.

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