A few months back, I was rifling through an old jewelry box while at my parents’ in Connecticut one weekend, and found an old charm bracelet that my parents bought me in middle school. The bracelet itself is flooded with memories, the afternoon my family went down to New York City to shop in the jewelry district and stop at our favorite deli for lunch; how I felt so mature with a real gold bracelet on my wrist, the charms chiming softly as my wrist swayed during the brisk walks along the busy New York Streets. Since I never remember to pack jewelry when I travel, I put it on that afternoon before meeting an old friend for a drink, and eventually made my way back to the city with it dangling on my wrist. It’s worked its way into my everyday accessories slowly, I started wearing it once a week, then a few times, and I’ve noticed now I reach for it almost every day; it’s as integral to my daily routine as grabbing my watch and its now conspicuous in its absence on the days I don’t fasten it. I know the three little charms like the back of my hand – a silver apple, an elephant, and a guardian angel – but it wasn’t until this morning that I remembered why I’d chosen those charms nearly 15 years ago.
Our tastes in everything change constantly, from fashion to food to the people we date. Sometimes I’ll notice I’m in a pink phase, pink hair, pink shoes, pink necklace, and then just a week later looking at pink makes me cringe. For years I couldn’t stand the taste of olives, always trying one when offered but decidedly disliking everything about them until about a year ago, when all of a sudden they became one of my favorite snacks. It certainly applies to the dating pool as well. Now that I’m a few months into a year where I’ve sworn off dating, I’ve had a lot of time to figure out what I might want if I ever decide to date, and it’s almost funny the things that are important to me now that weren’t even on my radar a year ago, like “Must do yoga” and “Must be comfortable with multiple cats.” It’s normal and wonderful to have tastes change, evolve, go somewhere new, and it makes looking back on things, like a tiny elephant I had to have on my bracelet so long ago, really fun.
There’s something nice about the changing tide of likes, dislikes, wants, needs. It’s a part of growth and learning, adapting to new circumstances and all that good stuff. But then again, I’m a creature of habit in many areas, and change is a scary thing. It’s not to say I’m terrified because I’m a fan of olives now, but sometimes, when confronted with so many changes in a period of time, it’s almost difficult to recognize yourself. Last year at this point, I was in a still-new job, things had just faded with The Banker and I had noticed that a cute subway stranger seemed to be on the same train every morning. I didn’t know my ass from my asana, I was rocking some bright blonde hair and I was doing everything I could to wear short sleeves in early spring so I could show off my third tattoo, the newest in my collection. I had totally different ambitions for my life; I had a totally different perspective on what would make me happy, which at the time I thought was “someone else” and “more wine.” It can be panic inducing to realize things evolve without you noticing, and it can be scary to think what it could be like if you ever run into someone who knew what is now the “old” you, how they might react or what they might think.
As my five-year college reunion rapidly approaches, these are the thoughts running through my mind: good change, bad change, so many changes, so many things the same. Next month I’ll see people who I cried with and hugged at graduation and then haven’t seen since, people who don’t know anything aside from what pops up on Facebook. I was running around this morning, trying frantically to do yoga, pack for the weekend, make breakfast, prep lunch/dinner and check email in under an hour, when I stopped and looked at my bracelet quickly. The silver apple hit the light at the perfect angle to spark through my memory and remind me why on earth I thought an apple charm was something special enough to include on my grown-up bracelet. It’s because all those years ago, I shyly told our friend in the Jewelry District that when I grew up, I wanted to live in New York City. He gave me a big smile at this and handed me the charm. “Here’s something to remind you of the Big Apple,” he said, gently putting the bracelet on my wrist. “Now you’ll always remember where you want to be.”
I smiled this morning as I watched the charm dangle on the subway ride, a reminder of how many things change and yet how everything stays the same. I’ve been so looking forward to Reunion next month, a chance to show off all the new tattoos, the red hair, the yoga muscles I’ve worked so hard for this year; a chance to show off how much I’ve changed since the 21 year old who left campus in tears on a sunny Monday in May. Or maybe they’ll look at me and see the exact same person, the loud girl who talks too fast and smiles all the time (usually). Either way, I know for sure, they’ll see a girl with a little charm bracelet, the same bracelet that went from Connecticut in 2001, through Virginia till 2010, and is now back to where it came from in NYC.