When I was 16, my mom gave me a pair of her diamond earrings. I had just gone through the early 2000s Tiffany’s phase and graduated from wanting more than just their classic dog chain necklace and bracelet. This was mostly because I lost the dog chain bracelet in 9th grade gym class, but also because I liked to think I was super classy and above the fashion norm.
I replaced the lost jewelry with a matching Tiffany’s heart necklace and bracelet. No one else had my new gems, so it made me feel kind of special. Soon enough, though, I decided it wasn’t special enough — I wanted nice earrings too.
I had always been the type to lose things. Even though my name was written in big letters on the tags, I managed to always lose shirts and shorts at summer camp. I lost textbooks and library books at school, resulting in fines that my parents had to pay. And I lost that expensive, dog chain bracelet from Tiffany’s. It was nice that my parents didn’t give up on me completely and got me the new necklace and bracelet, but my mom was extremely hesitant to let me wear any of her nice stuff.
Somehow, on the night of my Junior Prom, I convinced my mom to let me wear her diamond earrings. “If you lose these, I will kill you,” she said. I knew I wouldn’t though. I wasn’t an immature 14-year-old anymore. I was a grown-up 16-year-old adult. “I won’t,” I said as I ran off.
After prom, I wore those earrings every day for months. I wore them to the gym, took them off along with my other jewelry and put them in the cup holder on the treadmill, and put them right back on after. I wore them to cheerleading practice, took them off and put them in a corner with my stuff, and put them on after. I wore them in the shower. I wore them to bed. I wore them everywhere.
That’s why it did not make any sense to me when I lost one of the earrings.
In class one day, I touched my ear and felt nothing. Immediately, I felt the other ear to find an earring and realized that one of them was gone. This lost earring thing had happened before and I would then panic wondering how long people had witnessed my weird fashion statement, but these earrings weren’t from Claire’s. These wear real, diamond earrings that were my mom’s. And I lost one. My heart sunk.
After class, I searched the floor. I searched the hallways. I retraced all of my steps from that morning until that moment. I went home and searched my bedroom and the entire house. I then took my car to a carwash with a friend and cleaned that thing inside out vacuuming it from top to bottom. Nothing. It was gone.
I knew what I had to do. I had to tell my mom. I’m pretty sure she cried after I told her. I mean, I would have.
I never got any jewelry from her ever again. My grandmother didn’t even get me any nice jewelry after this, and she was one to ball out on gifts. This was probably a smart choice on their behalf, as I managed to lose my new Tiffany’s necklace and bracelet my junior year of college. I completely misplaced the necklace and left the bracelet at the gym the day before I left for winter break. I studied abroad the next semester, so it wasn’t like I could easily get it back in a month.
After this, I became obsessed with costume jewelry, which I of course lost and/or broke after approximately 3 months of owning each piece. But the jewelry was cheap and the metal color would fade after wearing the pieces a few times, so I didn’t really care.
Recently, I asked mom to let me borrow a pair of her diamond earrings for a friends’ wedding. Mind you – I wasn’t 16 when I asked. I was 26. It had been 10 years since the tragedy of me losing her earrings. But although 10 years had passed, there was a fear in her eyes when I asked that was all too familiar.
“No way,” she said.
“But I don’t have any nice earrings! All I have is costume jewelry! And it’s a wedding!” I begged. I didn’t have any nice earrings for a reason, though. But I had kept hold of a gold, diamond necklace from my great grandmother since I graduated college — and I hadn’t lost the bracelet that my grandmother left me in her will for two whole years. I felt like because of these things, I had redeemed myself.
Finally, she caved, and once again told me, “If you lose these, I will kill you.”
When I got home from the wedding, I gave my mom back the earrings in one piece. Shocked and content, I believe I started to change her perception of seeing me as “the one who can’t be trusted with jewelry.”
After this, she gave me one of my grandmother’s old necklaces. I am such a responsible grown-up now, I thought to myself as I marched back into my apartment with the expensive piece of gold.
But then I went to grab the necklace out of my bag to place on my jewelry stand and it was gone.
Just like it had done when I was 16, my heart sunk. But this time, it sunk probably 10-15 levels lower.
I ran down the back stairs of my apartment and pushed open the door and there it was on the ground outside – the green bag holding the necklace. It must have fallen out when I so ungraciously strolled into my apartment.
At that moment, I realized that just because I was getting older, I wasn’t becoming more responsible. Sure, I was more aware of things than I was at age 16, but I wasn’t any more responsible than I was back then.
Responsibility stems from an appreciation of things. For instance, you get more responsibility at work if you truly appreciate what you do. Another example – even if the world presents you more responsibilities without you asking for them (say, a child), you won’t automatically become responsible unless you really appreciate what you are now responsible for.
I never truly appreciated nice things until I saw my grandmother’s necklace sitting on the pavement outside my apartment waiting for someone to drive right over it. I knew I needed to be more careful with all of my belongings and it would be easy to start doing that now because a sudden appreciation for my jewelry, clothes, shoes, etc had struck me.
I am lucky. Not Kim Kardashian lucky. But for an average women working hard for everything she has, I am lucky to have what I have – and I am especially lucky to have what my grandmother once had.
When you are lucky enough to have anything someone else may not be as fortunate to have, you need to appreciate it and take care of it. Being young is not an excuse for losing something. I could have realized all of this at age 12 and never lost any of the shit I did throughout my teenage years. But I didn’t and instead I am realizing it now in my late-20s. I guess it’s never too late, right? And it’s also never too late to give a PSA to my boyfriend that despite what everyone has been telling him, he shouldn’t worry that I will one day lose an engagement ring if he ever gets me one because I would appreciate it. Really.