I’m sitting at my computer with a horrible little pit burrowing into my stomach. The pit is named “failure” and the feeling is small enough that I can keep working, but mean enough that my arms feel shaky and my eyes feel like they’re burning holes into my laptop. I’m really, really sad, and I’ve already had four cups of coffee, and my energy is still so non-existent that I feel like I’ll never accomplish anything, ever, not in my entire life, never mind this one dark morning.
So, yes, I am feeling a bit melodramatic today. And I’m looking for a quick fix. What can I do right now, I wonder, scanning my “office” (read: living room), that will pull me out of this deep hole of exhaustion and self-pity?
“Oh,” I say out loud, even though I’m alone, as I look over at my side table, where I tend to dump all of my personal belongings at the end of the day. I can put on my bracelets.
My bracelets are a weird little collection I’ve amassed over the years: on one hand, I have the broken watch from a dollar store near my mother’s house, another broken watch from a vintage seller at the St. Lawrence Market, and a beaded bracelet Laura brought me from a trip to Ghana. On the other hand, I have a silver spiked cuff from one of my favorite stores in Toronto, a Braced-Let that I bought during a trip to New York last summer, and a teeny tiny gold chain with a teeny tiny gold box from a teeny tiny jewelry store in Williamsburg that I bought on the same trip.
It’s a placebo effect, for sure, but I can already feel my heart rate returning to normal as I wind the beads and bangles around my wrists. Looking down and seeing all this cheap, fake gold, feeling its weight as I type emails—I’m not entirely better, but I feel a little more calm and rational.
My bracelets aren’t just bracelets. Each one reminds me of something or someone special. Both broken watches were bought while spending time with my boyfriend. When I bought the watch at the dollar store, we had been together for four years; I bought the watch from St. Lawrence Market on one of our first Saturdays together after we moved into our first apartment after six years; last week we celebrated our nine year anniversary. The beads from Laura were also given to a few other girls in our circle of friends. When I look down at them, I remember how she handed them out to each of us and explained how she had carefully chosen colours based on our personalities, and we all marveled at how she had somehow managed to nail each one of us with a simple string of beads. The spiked cuff, I always joke, is my “self-defense” bracelet: it looks both cool AND scary. The Braced-Let and the bracelet with the gold box were bought on the best trip I ever had to New York—I celebrated my 25th birthday, watched the 4th of July fireworks from a rooftop in Williamsburg, spilled tequila on a $300 silk t-shirt, got a tattoo, saw the McQueen exhibit, spent an entire day in Central Park, and yeah, I bought two bracelets. I remember all of that when I look at all of them. Somehow, they remind me to calm the fuck down and get back to work.
The meanings that I attach to these bracelets make me worried for the future. Why do I need to hear the jangle of the bracelets, or feel their weight, to calm down? What happens when these cheap pieces of metal, plastic, and rope that have proven so valuable to me inevitably break? Or slip off? Or fall between some crack in the floor, never to be recovered? What will I turn to then? I don’t know. I just keeping adding more and more bracelets as I add more and more memories, in hopes that eventually I’ll be able to carry the memories alone without needing the physical reminders. Soon, maybe, I’ll be the type of person that doesn’t need an arm party to soothe their anxieties over work and life and stuff. Soon I’ll learn to internalize some sort of stress-relieving device. In the meantime, I might also look into rings.
photos by Brittany Lucas
text by Haley Mlotek