Last weekend I went to San Luis Obispo, and in the course of playing tourist, I found a necklace that moved me enough to spend more than I could really afford. It's a box locket on a heavy chain, and this is what it looks like.
No one has asked me to look inside it. I think this is because it appears to be an ornament on its own rather than a locket. This is what's inside.
I had hoped that I would be able to sit and look at this message at moments I needed it, but the chain's not long enough and the locket can't be positioned the way I imagined. Instead of feeling like a comfort, the message feels like a secret. I like that, too. It's just not what I thought it would be.
The necklace is heavy. The more I think about it, the more this feels appropriate. The heaviness of inhale and exhale, the heaviness of continuing to exist. Breath is not a lightness, not something to bear easily.
The woman who sold it to me said that she got it at an estate sale, that it's from the 1950s. I'm not sure I believe that. What's carved on the inside doesn't feel like a 1950s sentiment, and the design is wrong for that era. If it was once ornamented, and stripped down later by a jewelrymaker who put the message inside, sure. The silver could be old.
The hinge isn't very precise, so the edges impact each other and clink a little when I walk. It doesn't jingle happily like a different necklace I wear most days.
Nearly nothing about this ornament is what I thought I'd get when I spent more than I could afford on it. But it's what I have now. It's different, but it's still good. That is the nature of the endeavor, of the inhale and exhale. Very little is predictable. Most things are bearable, even if heavy. Some days it's a noisome burden. I sit with it, I read it, I carry it with me, I keep it close to my skin.