By the time I had left Arizona in December in 2005 I could barely breathe.
Though my college experience had been rich and rewarding, at the tail end I felt overwhelmed and unprepared. I wasn't reluctant to leave school, just to enter the post grad world without a path or a plan.
I remember dry heaving the night before graduation. I remember looking around on the morning of graduation at my fellow classmates and not recognizing a single one.
What was happening?
So nearly immediately after returning home to New York I fled to Australia.
I needed time to clear my head and my spirit. One big adventure before I became a working stiff with only two weeks of paid freedom a year. I left. Alone. It wasn't until my North American sneakers touched the Australian pavement that I could actually take my first deep breath in weeks.
It felt like success.
I was in search of excitement and experiences in a land that was just different enough from my own. I had left behind my community, a girl, and friends. Friends, which I would probably never see more than once every other year if I were lucky.
My watch told my story. It was an athletic watch with a spinning bezel on top. Sometime during my last semester the bezel had gotten stuck and no longer spun. It was just locked in place. No matter how much I tried to force it, it wouldn't budge.
Some days into my time in Australia I was fiddling with my watch and all of a sudden the bezel spun again. Just like that. My breath and my bezel, suddenly free. The metaphor was not lost on me.
I walked around streets in every city I visited looking for something I could purchase to symbolize or kick start this next stage of my life. A necklace or talisman or other type of iconography native to this part of the planet. An item unique and worldly, both qualities I hoped people would think about me.
I started noticing necklaces. So many people I met or saw had necklaces of a thin black cord with a white or green stone carved into elaborate symbols or shapes.
Several conversations with jewelry wearing strangers told me the green ones were jade and they came from New Zealand, the last stop on my trip. It seemed appropriate and relevant. It would be perfect. It was of the land of this part of the world.
I wanted a story for it too, I didn’t want it to be something I just bought at a gift shop. So I waited until I went to a traditional Maori Hangi. Kind of like a luau for the native people of New Zealand.
I mulled over a couple of different options before settling on this one.
The green spiral meant renewal or rebirth.
I put it around my neck, tied the knot, and never took it off.
When I returned to the states it was my reminder of where I had been. My symbol of growth, of change, or all the things I hoped this next stage of my life would be.
Typically I had worn cheap necklaces I bought for a summer or a couple of months, rarely much longer. But this was different. I had no desire to take it off. It wasn’t until more than a year later that I had to take it off.
I was part of a modeling competition that mandated no jewelry. So I followed the rules. I didn’t win anyway.
After the competition I considered leaving it off but eventually decided I wasn’t done wearing it, absorbing its benefits or channeling its spirit... Whatever it was that I thought or hoped it did.
I put it back on and realized immediately that I had put it on backwards. Instead of leading out from my collarbone, the spiral seemed to be pointing in.
Maybe this would change my karma. So I left it.
And there it stayed for 4 more years.
Once in a while somebody would comment on or ask about it, but it just became part of me.
I didn’t fiddle with it much but sometimes I would play with it absentmindedly. Feeling the cool circular stone between the pads do my fingers.
Good jade is always cool to the touch I had once heard. I wondered how good mine was? Did it really feel cool or was I just trying to convince myself.
Sometimes I would put it to my lips breathing through the spiral in the middle imagining I was breathing new life into myself. Thinking about the word rebirth.
I never really thought about how long I’d wear it. It never felt flashy or obnoxious. I just liked having it on me.
Last week, in a rare moment of clarity in an otherwise clouded couple of months, I realized; it was time to take it off.
It wasn’t completely unfounded, I had been thinking about it for some time now, months really.
I could feel the sensation bubbling up from deep within me that the time had come. The saddest thing for me seemed that I would never put it back on again. Sure I could if I wanted to but it wouldn’t make sense. It represented a period in my life and maybe a mentality.
And for whatever reason, it just felt like it was time to move on. I put my hands on the thin black cord, which had become frayed over time and gave it a quick yank.
And I didn’t regret it, I didn’t question my decision, I just felt good.
Maybe I didn’t need a talisman for this next stage of my life. Maybe I would be enough.