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Once an age ago, my life was in chaos. Naturally, I went to Asheville, NC — quite possibly the most magically restorative place in North America. We’ll leave Europe out of it until I’ve seen it all ūüôā While there, wandering the shopping district — less polished and slightly funkier than today’s incarnation — I discovered the quaintest little head shop. My brother explained, as I was randomly na√Įve about aspects of pop culture, what that meant. They had quite an inventory, and suddenly several of the vendors at Grateful Dead shows made sense. Anyway, I found myself over in the jewelry section — enjoying the polished stones, and pretty patterns. The owner came over to chat. She looked like Woodstock and the Haight, with a pair¬†of the kindest eyes I’ve ever encountered. We talked music and Dead shows (she’d been to approximately a billion more). As my brother shifted impatiently towards the door…. she reached into the case and withdrew a pendant. I’d seen many like it at concerts, a stone polished smooth with a sterling soldered jacket. This particular piece was rose quartz, pale and faceted, and inset into the silver was a small, deep glowing emerald. Bracing myself, I was going to say I was just looking, you know the drill, no money, new life….Without saying anything, she unwound a ¬†length of velvet cord from the counter top. She threaded the pendant, put it in my hand and said, “take it sweetie, it matches your skin and your eyes. It belongs on you.”

Flash forward 22 years….. the velvet cord has been replaced countless times. The rose quartz¬†has been joined by Joan of Arc (fierce girl), a fleur-de-lys, St. Francis (peace, love & small animals), a tree of life and¬†short-time additions through the years. It’s been under my blouses, against my skin,¬†for¬†every joy and sorrow — road trips, and concerts, work and play… it lay warmly¬†as each darling girl was placed against my heart, iced against me in the bleakness of a December cemetery saying goodbye to Daddy, and everyone knows if I twirl my hair or play with the necklace, I’m thinking.

It has been suggested that I replace the cord with a “higher end” chain, maybe the pendant and its companions with gold charms….no, it wouldn’t be the same. If I need my d√©colletage more open, the cord is in my purse, and even once nestled in a shoe, not as comfortable as one might think. Its part of my morning routine, like putting on perfume or brushing my¬†teeth. Do I have to wear it? Of course not, yet, it binds me to highways, and stories, and memories¬†— a token of my freedom, a promise of past and dream of future,

Do you have a talisman, a touchstone? What evokes the past for you?

 

musical talismans:

  • String of Pearls¬†(Glenn Miller) —¬†learning to dance with my father, graduating from standing on his toes, being twirled — I still love dancing
  • Angel in Blue¬†(J. Geils band) —¬†one critic describes the song as “slick get-’em-off trash,” we always ended dances in high school¬†with this, and I remember the “slow” dancing — just turning in a circle, not what I’d been taught, but fun nonetheless
  • This is the Life¬†(Amy McDonald) —¬†such a talent — I imagine a smoky club — listening to her pull the crowd into her palm
  • Follow Me¬†(Uncle Kracker) —¬†not one of my favorite artists, this song just has a wicked hook!
  • Take is as it Comes¬†(Steve Winwood) —¬†think I killed the cassette of this album…
  • Things we lost in the fire¬†(Bastille) —¬†British not quite boy band — not quite as deep as Auden, but a nice hand with lyrics
  • She’s always a woman to me¬†(Billy Joel) —¬†a sweetheart of my college years, inarticulate and kind — played this for me — I like how she took care of herself
  • Won’t go home without you¬†(Maroon 5) —¬†poor darlings, reaping the “overexposed” reward — I like the harmonies on this song
  • Staring at the Sun¬†(Wendy & Lisa) —¬†Prince’s backup band with a song that conjures home & regret in a way that would please Thomas Wolfe
  • Animal¬†(Neon Trees) —¬†another mama/girlies song….laughing, because I got the “wait, you already HAVE this on your iPod”
  • As soon as the sun goes down¬†(Animal Logic) —¬†made up of Stewart Copeland (of the Police), Deborah Holland, and Stanley Clarke — 2 fantastic albums!!!
  • Will you still love me tomorrow?¬†(Amy Winehouse) —¬†incredible cover,
  • In My Life¬†(the Beatles) — if you ever wonder why the Beatles are the “Fab Four,” listen to a little gem such as this…. it is so tight
  • Still into You¬†(Paramore) —¬†the girls love her — I fell in love with the lyrics
  • These are Days¬†(10,000 Maniacs) —¬†One of those songs that makes you sway back against a porch rail, listening for the wind through the woods
  • Box of Rain¬†(Grateful Dead) —¬†one of my favorite Dead songs, hearing it played in the rain…. a wow¬†¬†spectacular
  • Not the Only One¬†(Bonnie Raitt) —¬†a love song that is sweet, sincere and just makes me happy
  • These Foolish Things Remind Me of You (Nat King Cole) — at one point I had 7 covers of this
  • Moondance (Van Morrison) — evocative is not a word to throw around — yet this song captures every nuance of feeling, paints mind pics and, in general, reminds me of halcyon days
  • You Remind Me (Steve Poltz) — a little folky, a little make memories….

History should give you goose bumps. There’s a thrill in it. –> Josephine Humphreys

Take care,
Aly

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