Thursday, June 17, 2010

Treasured: Ancient mariner necklace

Necklace: from Beacon's Closet, NYC.
All the ways I've worn it.

Growing up, my house was a shrine for my dad's collections from his former Navy travels. He left the military when I was six to focus on our family and move us to a more settled town. However, the memorabilia from his past life took up our walls and rooms: straw hats from China, paintings from Japan, nature photos from Alaska, and the like. What often outnumbered these items were his trinkets that depicted Navy life itself: model boats in bottles, Navy men dancing on lager pint mugs and a little trio of metal ships named Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria. I spent hours reading about female pirates and sea captains. It is no wonder that I became obsessed with nautical life --- I was ingrained with it, in the same way football culture can be ingrained in small children. It was in my blood. If there was anywhere I wanted to be, it was with the mother sea.

When I was in high school, I got involved with the Boy Scouts' co-ed program and learned to sail. I learned all the important knots, how to raise and lower sails, how to adjust the jib and the mainsails. I went on a few sailing trips, around the local lake and once even in the Florida panhandle, where I saw huge waves and dolphins try to jump onto our boat. I was around the saltiness of it all so much that I wanted to compete in a yearlong sailing competition, and even contemplated naming my future children after boat parts (Tiller and Hull). My father even had a friend donate an old red sailboat to me, one that I scrubbed and cleaned, and set up sail in my backyard. Even if we lived a few hours from the closest lake, I still sat inside it, dreaming of all the places I would go with my trusty red boat.

When I went to college, I went to a landlocked university, and my time on the water waned. My hands idled over schoolwork instead of tying knots. My parents eventually donated the boat to my brother's Boy Scout troop.

A couple years later, I spotted this necklace during a trip to New York. Its design reminded me of my father's model Columbus ships. I had to have it. When I wear it, it reminds me of my childhood, and wishing I could have been a sea captain back in the day, because it sounded cooler than being the damsel in distress. Whenever I wear it, it makes me feel like a pioneer --- like I could suddenly do all the things I promised a very young version of myself that I would do -- live on a sailboat, learn all the knots, compete in sailing races that would take me to exotic lands. Maybe one day I will. But for now, I'm content to wear this necklace, and wikipedia different ways to tie intricate knots.

signature1 by you.


  1. What a lovely necklace, with such meaning behind it!

  2. What a sweet story. I love the connection to your father and your childhood that this necklace has.

    And of course, I continue to love any kind of object jewelry right now, so the ship is great!

  3. Hey! I was going through your blog and discovered something:



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