“In the New Year, never forget to thank your past years because they enabled you to reach today! Without the stairs of the past, you cannot arrive at the future!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan
I found this necklace a few years ago as we were packing to move. The memories that this little piece of jewelry brought to me were vivid and came with a soundtrack–Bobby Vinton singing Blue Velvet.
I’ve had this necklace since New Year’s Eve, 1966. If I did not have the necklace, I would have thought this memory was just some sort of dream.
1966 was a tough year for me. My Dad had remarried and I was pretty confused. That was not new. I’d been questioning many things for several years, from the time of my Mom’s difficult pregnancy which resulted in the loss of my little brother to her cancer diagnosis to her death. Having a “new mom” was uncomfortable–for lack of a better word.
I was twelve and lost. No one talked about my Mom. I think they were afraid talking about her would hurt me. I ached to talk about her and confess how sorry I was for not spending more time with her. When Dad told us he was getting married to Irene, I felt like he was slamming the door on the past, on every memory of my Mom.
I started to act out. Looking back with my adult eyes, I see classic acting out behavior. To my Dad and his new wife, I needed discipline. In my kid’s mind, I think I thought if I acted up enough, Irene would leave. The only thing my bad behavior did was create more tension in an already very tense household.
On this New Year’s Eve, I was still grounded for lying about having chorus practice so I could go and hang out with my friends. This was an incredibly stupid lie that marked the beginning of my year of rebellion. My home no longer felt like home so I needed my friends more than ever.
At dinner that night, Dad and Irene told us they were going out with friends. I was relieved to have them gone–it would be a night my sisters and I could do what we wanted.
Now’s when things get a little odd.
Later that evening, the phone rang. It was one of the boys from our group of friends. He wanted to know if he could come over–he had something for me.
I kinda had a boyfriend–in an extremely broad definition of the word–and this was not that boy.
Well…I said yes. I knew Dad and Irene would be out until well after midnight–my sisters were asleep and both could sleep through just about anything.
Irene had a Hi-Fi system set up in our dining room so I had an album already playing when he got there. If nothing else, the music would cover up the sound of the front door opening just in case my sisters did wake up. I imagine we probably shared a pop and then we began to dance. I can’t remember if we played other albums. I remember we danced for hours to Bobby Vinton. If I really thought about it, I’m sure I could sing you every song on the side that played over and over that night–the song that brings me back immediately to our darkened living room is Blue Velvet.
The picture in my mind is so clear. We were two kids, really, holding each other–we did not talk or even look at each other. We danced–slowly, closely and innocently.
Shortly after midnight, he left for home. As he was heading out the door, he handed me a little box with this necklace inside. I think he said something like, “I got this for you. And no, I did not steal it.”
This little necklace is yet another thing that has survived many moves. It represents one of the sweetest evenings of my life. I don’t know why he came over, I don’t know why he bought me this present, and I don’t remember either one of us ever talking about being together that night. I don’t think I ever told anyone about this night and I doubt he did, either. It was yet another thing at this time of my life that seems like it just never happened.
Maybe he was an angel in disguise–sent to hold me at a time when I needed that simple act of kindness.
As I’ve written my stories these past few months, there are some memories that seem to have a life of their own–they continue to take me surprise by the depth of emotion they bring with them. This is definitely one of the best and dearest.
Happy New Year, my friends. May God bless us all.
I love you.