I often think about the things I have that I haven’t used yet, unseen and unopened.
It’s not that I have loads of abandoned things, but sometimes I’ll find a little packet of something tucked away, like a pack of tights ‘too special’ to wear yet, or an unworn but coveted item of clothing that I don’t want to ‘spoil’. I don’t think I do it consciously. It’s more an understanding with myself: not yet, not yet, the time hasn’t come yet.
This week I discovered four sets of earrings that my husband bought for me in 2012. I remember it was 2012 because he was working away for a few months. In London. And it was winter. And I missed him.
We saw each other every few weeks, but it’s not the same. It feels different. I think you act different somehow. You get used to someone being there, or not. And when you’re used to it just being you again, living alone, it takes a few days to readjust to someone else again. And then the visit is over.
One weekend I visited him in London, and of course I wanted to make the most of all the city has to offer (creative-inspiration overwhelm!)
We went to the Victoria & Albert Museum. Of course. It was the exhibition about British Design (1948-2012).
We arrived late having dawdled through the day and got lost on the Tube. The exhibition was going to close in less than an hour.
We wangled a student entry because it was so late in the day, despite not being students. We ran to the exhibition and began power-reading the signs that described the displays and absorbing all the innovation in double-quick time. We giggled. It was fun. We felt like students, young, younger, silly, carefree. I don’t think we would have felt quite the same if we’d been going to an exhibition at home. Everything felt amplified and different, caught in a bubble, stretched and kaleidoscopic with colour.
Of course we had to visit the shop. I think it was open later than the exhibition? I bought a ‘Betty’ rain hat in vivid pink that I now feel a bit embarrassed to wear.
And then I saw the earrings. I loved them. They were so fun. My husband bought me these four designs. It was silly. They weren’t so expensive. But he wanted to get me them to make me happy and because it felt like we were on holiday and they were in funky colours and shapes. We were at the V&A! In London!
And I really don’t know why I didn’t just take a pair out of its packet right there and wear them straight away. Wear them home. Out to dinner. On the flight home.
Earrings in their little packets, savored, fingered, unopened. Pretty cellophane that holds inside everything that I felt on that day, so far away from home and from my life, but my life was there right with me; me and my husband and all our memories ,together, living, happy.
Just seeing the packets of earrings this week transported me back there again, feeling the same things, the same emotions. Holding hands, skipping round exhibitions, feeling free, loose and free and like there was nothing else in the world. Just him and me where I picked these earrings in sweetie colours, plastic fantastic.
And I’ve still never worn them. They’ve taken on new meaning.
Isn’t life (and love) strange?