Sunday, September 5, 2010

geography of a wrist


growing up, we all have memories of our mothers through sight, sound, and smell. my mom smelled of chanel number 5, had hair so black it shone blue, but my biggest memory is auditory. her right arm was covered in tiny silver bracelets she collected over the years, and when i was little, i fell asleep to the sound of metal jangling around her wrist, as she read the owl and the pussycat to me for the umpteenth time. 

when she died, 18 years ago last month, her bracelets were split among her children. about 12 years ago, i decided to start wearing some of them, 4 to be exact. they were small, thin cuffs she got out west many years ago. 

about that same time my husband and i started traveling with our kids. we figured, instead of buying things like a bigger house or newer cars (who needs those?!?), we'd rather put on some backpacks and take our kids when they are young to see the world. so everywhere we went, i purchased a silver cuff to remind me of that country and that trip. we started off in northern thailand where i found a distinctive filagreed design in the golden triangle, and then over the border to burma found another at a street market that sold plastic kalashnikovs (my then 7 year old son was in heaven). next stop, spain, where we marveled at gaudi's architecture in barcelona, drove through the snow to reach the fortressed town of avila and rang in the new year in cadaques on the northeastern coast, where the kids tossed rocks into the cold, choppy water while my husband and I toasted each other with cava (spanish champagne) on the beach. i looked in vain across ireland, and never found the right one, but we listened to the haunted wind blow off the atlantic and looked for leprechauns in the bogs of county offaly. a few years later i found the perfect strip of hammered silver on ithaka, reminding me of how the water reflects the greek july sky.....

then there was turkey, where we sailed along the coast in a little wooden boat. sleeping above decks, watching the moon arc over us as we floated somewhere in the mediterranean. in istanbul we visited the spice market and after searching through dozens of jewelry stores i found a slim band engraved with dolphins leaping through a ribbon of stylized waves. and in teotihuachan, a bold precolombian design called to me from a tented market one sizzling afternoon outside the pyramid of the moon.

18 months ago we visited egypt. we climbed into the king's chamber and meditated, rode the train along the nile and joined a midnight military escort across the desert to reach abu simbel by dawn before the thermometer hit the roof. in aswan i found two lovely bracelets --- made of nubian silver, the vendor promised me. it sounded exotic enough, so i purchased them. they like to reside at the bottom of the heap, around my wrist. one has a greek key pattern, which i have searched for in vain in greece.....i've only ever seen them made of gold. i'm not a gold person. 

this july, when we were in montana, i received two more bracelets, for my birthday. one was from my husband - a bold navajo pattern - and the other from my sister, a lacy indian silver band with roses and crawling turtles. 

so far there are 16 in all. how many more i can stand before i sink when i go swimming i don't know. people often ask if i take them off at night, but i never remove them - only for massages, airport security. or surgery........and god forbid that doesn't happen often. they jockey for position and i often wake up with a messy heap of metal, which i have to patiently disentangle. 

so my kids have grown up listening to the sound of metal jangling as well, whenever goodnight moon, the runaway bunny or grandfather twilight was read and prayers said. i guess i have become a totem - whenever i'm at a family reunion, people are drawn to my wrist, and i'll give it shake for all to hear. like a shaman with a rattle, maybe, somehow, we'll invoke my mother's spirit.


anyway, mom, please know as i write this, with bracelets hitting the desk, scraping against the laptop and making that unmistakable jingle........

i'm thinking of you. 

xo♡a

28 comments:

  1. Wonderful tribute. I'm betting your kids will continue the tradition.

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  2. What a fitting tribute to your mother, to collect what she collected, to repeat her steps and her sounds with your children. Love this story, this memento to pass on to your children, to remember you and her as well.

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  3. Amanda, this is a wonderful story of your mother and of you, a history to be passed down to your children. The photo is a great accompanying visual and I can almost hear your mother's bracelets jingling.

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  4. Amanda, this is a very, very beautiful tribute to your mother. I can hear the sounds you describe so perfectly. I can see the images. You're a wonderful writer. And I love your blog, too. It's different. I love it!

    And I loved seeing your face just now on my blog. It's been fun meeting new people through Karen's and Donna's BBQ. But I love seeing the faces of friends I've already met.

    At the moment I'm just overwhelmed by this beautiful post. I love memoirs, and especially memoirs that take me places I've never been. Thank you for this glimpse into your travels with your husband and children. I most of all love the very personal stories.
    Ann

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  5. This post, your heart and those bangles are all absolutely beautiful.

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  6. Nice memories remembered and created and I close my eyes and hear the jangling - you wear them with honor.

    For me it is a deja pew of Ma Griffe perfume and amber beads.... but Mom never read to me before bed.....hmmm

    Different lives lived in the same family ... can't wait to have time together to compare notes.

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  7. jeffscape -- thank you -- and i never thought of the possibility of my daughter eventually ending up with the bangles -- but again why not? what a lovely thing to think about and look forward to -thanks for the idea!

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    rosaria, sometimes i wonder if there is some sort of spiritual inheritance that is passed along silently with the physical dna. i never wore jewelry up until this point, and all of a sudden i have a 1/2 pound of silver on my arm and it doesn't bother me in the least!!! xo

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    genie, what lovely words, many thanks♡ and so glad you like the foto too.......my husband's new camera takes much better shots, and i'm having so much fun playing with it!

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    ann -- what a lovely comment -- this means so much to me that the story resonated with you. i agree that it's been a great time navigating this blogging world and meeting new people. and i love your new picture with the little one on your lap!! thank you always for your kind words~ xo

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    robyn, thanks for stopping by and reading -- and i really loved that video that i watched on your post today--it stayed with me all day......xoxo

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    sister, yes, mom read to amy and me, out of that big book of children's poems. i can still see it in my mind's eye, wish i knew where it was now.....must have been a bit of different parenting with the older vs. younger kids??? but yes, ma griffe i remember too and the amber beads i wear today with love
    xoxo

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  8. your text is very intense and very personal, between beauty and sadness that is difficult to choose ... we all have childhood memories, sounds, smells, memories that sometimes reveinnent of a sudden while they thought buried forever ... bye amanda !

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  9. This is like Robyn said, SO so beautiful. I loved reading about your travels, your mother and all your bracelets.

    I do the same thing, i've been collecting for years, whereever i travel. But mine are a mix of (whatever i could find) gold, silver, copper, wire...

    Maybe my own daughters will love my bracelets and inherit them someday. I'm sure your Mother would be so pleased to know hers are such a part of you.

    So beautiful.

    xoxo
    lori

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  10. I forgot to say my Mom wore Chanel #5 too. Only that. It's a part of me also.

    When I arrived at my daughters in NYC i brought her a small bottle, she was thrilled.

    She said How did you know I'd want some?

    She'll find out it's more than the smell of the perfume, it's the person too. She can put it on and i'll be there, and her Grammy too. (not going to cry anymore.)

    :)

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  11. This was so touching and beautifully written, Amanda. The sound of jingling silver lulling generations into sweet slumber... poetry.

    Loved reading about your travels (I hope to do the same with my child soon too) and seeing the gorgeous reminders clinking around your wrist.

    Like Lori, I too wear my grandmother's and mother's perfume: Mitzouko by Guerlain. It is a trademark of the women in my mother's family. I don't know where the smell of my skin ends and wheer mitzouko begins...

    Could you send me your mailing address? italiainbocca@gmail.com
    I have a little thought for you.

    Eleonora xx

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  12. What a wonderful tribute to your mom, Amanda.

    And I love the delightful word pictures you have shared of your "wrist-y" adventures.

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  13. I am nodding to everything the others said. Such lovely memorys. Wow, all those TRAVELS you took! I can hear your bracelets, they will now jingle me to sleep.
    Is your hair also so black? Where was she from? My American crush Charlie was half Greek, 1/4 Irish, 1/4 German. I love those American mixtures! Will write you a mail tomorrow!

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  14. That is a beautiful and wonderful tribute. Your writing took me to far away and familiar places. And I love all your bangles. I am a silver person too and I love bracelets and bangles.

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  15. Wow...

    What a lovely tribute to your mom, and how amazing that your kids will likely remember the same sounds. And your adventures sound mind-blowingly awesome.

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  16. What a beautiful memory story. How wonderful you are carrying on her tradition. Gorgeous bangles.

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  17. I enjoyed this bangle story and the memories. The imagery and auditory aspect frames it well. A lovely tribute to your mother.

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  18. I don't know where to start, this has touched me so deeply. You are her living legacy, you do your mother proud. I am sure she is smiling down on you, or vibrating in your soul through your shared DNA.

    I wonder what my daughter will remember of me? I read her the Runaway Bunny tonight.

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  19. What a beautiful way of keeping memory of your mum and travels with your own family close at hand and heart*!*

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  20. mahon - thank you -- i really love what you say about having to choose between beauty and sadness -- that's so poetic -- merci xoxo

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    lori -- so you collect bracelets too!!

    and that was so thoughtful of you to give hannah some chanel no. 5 - so she can always be close to both her mom and grandmother through fragrance ~ that is a great idea♡ she is really set between that and her amazing quilt you made for her!!! hey -- just got back from taking my son to college so we can both have a good cry together, eh?!? sending love and hugs xoxo

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    eleonora -- i'm sure you will be traveling with your little boy soon enough - and i'll look forward to reading all about your avventure!!

    mitzouko by guerlain--i have not heard of this and am now intrigued...will stop by the fragrance counter next time i am at the dept. store to check this out!

    yes - i will send you my email addresss -- look forward to hearing from you! xoxo

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    hey r-bear thanks!! hope you're feeling beary good now!! xoxo

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    geli - i only wish my hair was black like my mother's. my brother inherited the closest color to her's, the rest of us are blond or brunette......sigh. and you can't dye your hair to look that black, either, her's had a blue sheen to it like no other.

    your american crush sounds tres exotique!!! love the 1/2 greek part for sure!

    look forward to your email dear one!!! xoxo

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    hello loree -- thank you so much♡♡i love to hear you are a silver person too!! i imagine you have quite the bracelet collection yourself! xoxo

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  21. julie -- many thanks ♡~~ and I do really hope my kids will remember those sounds.....and maybe my daughter will one day find a bunch of bracelets taking up real estate on one of her arms!! xo

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    glynis -- thank you for these kinds words! maybe one day i will find the perfect bracelet somewhere on cyprus!♡

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    hi sarah -- thank you for reading -- so glad you liked the story. sometimes i start in one place and find myself being taken to another when i write these pieces -- they have a mind of their own! xo

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    yoli - what beautiful words you use: "vibrating in your soul through your shared dna'.......wow. this lovely statement will stay with me -- soo many thanks for that♡

    your little one is lucky to have mom read her that story -- runaway bunny is the best!!

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    annie - i love the way you say that - keeping my mum and travels with family close at hand and heart -- so true and so perfectly said -- thank you dear! xoxo

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  22. jeez amanda, this piece is a treasure. it's great enough to learn this about you and your Mother, but to so vividly sense the sounds of your childhood and your children's childhoods--for me it's a loving lump in my thoughtful throat.

    and...

    to hear about the places you've been. my god, exotic and distant lands! it puts my europe and north america and tropical islands to shame!

    who do i have to thank for meeting you, amanda? is it our beloved lori?

    xoxo
    kj

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  23. Oh so lovely. What a wonderful post, Amanda <3

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  24. kj -- your words always bring such joy to me -- thanks for reading and commenting♡

    and yes, i think we do have that lovely lori to thank for bringing us together...isn't this blogging world the best?

    xxx

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    japra --- thank you for visiting dear friend, and for reading

    hugs and xxx

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  25. Oh, they're beautiful. I love silver myself and those bracelets have me drooling in envy. - Jazz

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  26. hey jazz, thanks! i love these bracelets most of the time, but sometimes i wake up with them strangling my wrist ;-)

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  27. A lovely tribute to your mom and insight into you!!!

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  28. hello chieftess -- thanks so much for reading and visiting!

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Thank you for visiting♡