Just before I started my final teaching placement I bought myself a Swarovski necklace. It is a tiny danging pink crystal and it cost a flat $100. It was the first piece of jewellery (fine jewellery that is) that I bought myself.
I thought I’d wear it all the time, but somehow, probably in 2013, it got all tangled up and lived in my make up travel case until a few months ago.
Tonight I spent half an hour untangling it.
It was hard work. Easier if I didn’t look at it too closely, but still hard.
2010 was my favourite year. I was 24 and happy. I had some great jobs, one nice boyfriend, a very best friend I saw at least once a week, a really active social life. I went for walks along the beach on Tuesday with my friends from gym. I learned to run (literally).
At 24 I loved life, and at 25 my world plummeted into the pits of chaos (not total despair). Moving away and having a challenging job took a toll on my mental health. I was trying to maintain two lives: Adelaide and where I was living for work, and then an additional life when Stephen and I started dating. We talked about my terrible old job the other night and I told him something I didn’t even really realise until I said it out loud: not having my contract renewed (at my old workplace) was the best thing that ever happened to me.
At 26 I fixed my life, but probably because I had to. I had no choice. And in some ways, the new structure of my new life made it happen. I used to call my drive to work The World’s Most Beautiful Commute. It really was.
Back to the necklace. As I untangled it I listened to my podcast and I thought about my final placement and my teaching mentor, and the day I caught the tram into town to buy my necklace. Those beautiful, busy, crazy, hectic days that I’m unlikely to see until I’m retired. I miss them. I miss that life. I miss my Sunday breakfasts. I miss Brett and his bad jokes and puns.
The only reason I moved away to the country was because I didn’t want to do relief teaching, which is (ironically) what I ended up doing the last 18 months I had in the country. I felt that relief teaching in town was not a good option. When I went to an AEU workshop and a TRT said that every morning she would get up at 6am, get dressed for work and eat breakfast, and sometimes wouldn’t have a call by 9am, I thought ‘hells no.’ That’s why I picked the country path. It was my undoing, but it was also the making.
I never would have imagined what these ten years have held if you’d told me about it while I was sitting on the tram, a pink crystal necklace in my handbag, my banged up Nokia in my hand, waiting for a text that always arrived when it was supposed to.
I miss those days.
But I’m glad for the ones I have now. For my kids. For my craft (writing craft that is). For my friendships; old and new. For my career thus far. For my changes of heart. For my willingness to try new things and see beyond what I used to believe wholeheartedly.
Tomorrow I will go and do some of those old things though. Not the tram ride. Not the Swavorski shop. Maybe a long-overdue walk. Maybe some time to say goodbye to Bretty who has missed his second Melrose trip. Nine years ago I got home from a cruise and he called me and said he was around the corner and we should catch up. We had hot chips. I won’t be having hot chips tomorrow.
Grandma (my grandma in-law, not Gran) called today and asked me about work. I told her I had a few options to explore. Tomorrow won’t be the time for that. We have a pandemic to get over. And then I can work it out properly.
I untangled my necklace and put it on again. It’s fine and dainty. I have all of the grace of a baby hippo. There was something about that necklace that screamed, ‘take me! wear me!’ And just like all of the other weird pieces of my life that don’t really go together, I just went with it. What else is a girl to do.