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An Anklet Woke Me Up

I have never been one for the drama. I’ve always said it’s not welcome with me. Fights, love triangles, whispers; all of it could find someone’s open door to slip through instead of banging on mine. But sometimes it asks you nicely, and you feel weak, and then, you’re just like everyone else.

Earlier this summer, I found myself on an unsteady path. I was navigating an awful lot of creeks and canyons (complete with baggage I’d amassed over time) that were probably deemed unsafe. The ground below me had a bounce and rise to it, like elastic. At first, it always came back, but as it was required to take more weight, it started to strain. One more step, and it would have to give way.

This fraught anticipation ticked away on a daily basis. As I acted urgently with every new dramatic addition permeating my universe, I neglected to see that I was an urgent matter, too. The bullets of nausea ricocheting around my stomach and the act of hiding of my phone so I wouldn’t have to deal with anything were symptoms of the journey I was taking, seemingly against my will.

Then I received a pair of earrings.

I’d bought them online. Inside the envelope, alongside the little gold tusks, was a piece of red wool. Attached to it were tiny jingly bells, shells and other odd assortments including zany, carefree threads of gold tinsel, poking out from behind beads like they had a place. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew I liked it, and it ended up around my left ankle.

I must point out, I have never been an anklet person. On holidays as a child, I always chose the tacky dolphin motif bracelet, with it’s mesmerising oil-spill effect, over the tacky anklet. Anklets seemed fussy. But yet here it was, blood-red, sitting above my foot.

This piece of arts-and-crafts string did not change my life. But it did proceed to wake me up. Not just with it’s constant jingling and flapping (my tolerance for annoying noises improved), but with the feelings I realised I had about it. I loved every step, the unapologetic sound it made. I loved the way I felt when I looked down at it. I loved how silly it looked, trivial. I loved how grounded it felt.

It was just a piece of string with random things attached to it.

‘It feels like it’s really me,’ I said to my boyfriend, not cringing even once.

This tatty symbol marked something better, easier, less theatrical. A way to frog-march the drama, deceptive and overwhelming as it was, over the threshold, out of my home.

It seemed to lure out truths I’d been looking for: the people in your life need to make you feel good as you do them, the ability to be comfortable with yourself is the difference between a heavy existence and a light one. And most crucially, as I’d suspected earlier on, drama itself can never be worth anything.

After days of enjoying the anklet privately within the walls of my home, I started wearing it outside. My boyfriend seemed to get some kind of kick out of it, too, grinning as by-passers craned their necks, uncertain as to where the sound was coming from. By the time they looked down, I was just a figure moving away. Going, going, gone.

I wore it to the shops. I wore it to lunch. If I wasn’t leaving the house, it was the only piece of jewellery I bothered putting on.

As I said, it did not change my life. But it exposed all of the cracks that I was about to step on, the uneven surfaces that I’d been attempting to tread, and ultimately the reality of the weights I was lugging. It reminds me to find a clear perspective, just until I’m able to do that on my own.

Drama can only live where it’s welcome. As this piece of arts-and-crafts string will tell you, it’s certainly not welcome here.

[Picture: Cate Parr/ Silver Ridge Studio]

This entry was posted in: Essays

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