I couldn’t wait to get my ears pierced. I counted down the days until my “double-digit” birthday and the moment I woke up, I was ready to be transformed into a glamorous earring-wearing 10-year-old. Mom wasn’t moving quite fast enough (laundry can put a real damper on things!) but eventually, we left the house and drove uptown to the only jewelry store (Rudolph’s) that offered ear piercing (this was before Claire’s and the plethora of piercing shops gracing many towns today).
I already had a small collection of earrings in a beautiful little gold box. My Aunt Jan had given me some of her old earrings (my favorites were a gold ball with an oval charm swinging delicately below…they were the only “dangle” earrings in the box). I had brought them with me so I could prance out of the store, pushing my hair behind my ears for all the world to see the new, bejeweled me. Much to my dismay, the owner of the shop explained that I had to wear the “starter” earrings (boring little, and I mean LITTLE, teeny-tiny 14K gold balls) and that if I took good care of my ears by turning the earrings daily, I would be wearing the dangly ones soon (not soon enough). Mr. Rudolph told me that it might pinch a little, so I just put on a brave face and said I was ready. It more than pinched a little, it hurt a LOT! I blinked back tears and a few seconds later, the pain was gone, and I was now among the earring-wearing people of the world.
Our 4th-grade pictures were coming up and I begged my mom to let me change my earrings to the “dangly” ones, even though it was 2 days before I was supposed to. She eventually said yes because I had been so responsible in taking care of my newly pierced ears. On picture day, I made sure that the school photographer could definitely see my new gold dangles when she told me to smile.
Several years later, when I was in high school, our town finally got a Mall. In the center was a rectangular-shaped kiosk of glass cases filled with the most whimsical jewelry I had ever seen. Even the name of the company had a playful ring to it ~ it was called Pididdly Links. There were heart charm necklaces, cherub pins, and earrings, moon and star designs, lockets that really opened to keep pictures of your loved ones close to you, small etched glass pieces ~ it was a treasure trove, and I once again fell in love with a pair of “dangly” earrings. They were almost shoulder dusters, antiqued brass cherubs that appeared to be standing atop a beautiful hand-painted heart. Inside the heart was a smaller heart made from a sparkling Swarovski crystal. I pictured myself wearing them on Valentine’s Day with my new red sweater. I asked the price and found out they were $38. I did a quick calculation and even if I saved up my allowance, I wouldn’t be able to get them before Valentine’s Day. I looked at them every time I went to the mall and one day they were gone. Some other lucky girl would be wearing them with her new red sweater.
The Friday before Valentine’s Day, I opened my locker at school and there was a little wrapped gift box with a small card ~ I recognized my friend Stephanie’s writing immediately, opened the box, and inside were the cherub earrings! She had been listening to me pine over those earrings and went back to buy them for me just in time for Valentine’s Day. I ended up going on my first Ski trip that Valentine’s Day ~ I certainly couldn’t ski, but I did have the best earrings on the slopes!
Fast forward to a few days after graduating from college. I am job hunting and although I think I am a worldly young woman who will perhaps move to a big city or even abroad, this little ad catches my eye: “Local jewelry business in search of someone to market designs. Some travel is necessary. Inquire in person.” I put my “interview outfit” on (a tan skirt and jacket with medium heel pumps). When I looked in the mirror, I thought the outfit could use a little “pop” and even though it wasn’t Valentine’s Day, I grabbed those cherub earrings along with my resume and headed out the door.
I pulled up to a fairly nondescript building not even 10 minutes from home. I smoothed my skirt, took a breath, and walked up to the door. Above the address on the door was a familiar name: Pididdly Links! I knocked and was let in by a man who turned out to be one of the Owners. Steve invited me in, took my resume, smiled, and said “Nice earrings”. After the interview, if you can call talking about everything from favorite music, best friends, and a little history of the company (his amazing wife is the designer) an interview, he said he’d be in touch in a day or two. This was before cell phones and emails…we didn’t even have an answering machine! I was so afraid that I’d miss his call, not to mention this golden opportunity, that I borrowed our neighbor’s answering machine until I heard the message “You got the job!”
For the next few years, I had the absolute pleasure of traveling around the country representing “The Most Romantic Jewelry this side of Paradise.” I wore the new designs at each trade show and acquired quite a collection that I still wear today. My favorite pieces of jewelry are ones that have a story and evoke memories. When I think of that first pair of dangly earrings; my grandmother’s charm bracelets (one charm was a birthday cake with candles that actually popped up and another was a small church and you could look into this tiny keyhole and see the Lord’s Prayer); the turquoise ring from Carson City ranch that my Dad bought me, a small Taurus Tiffany charm necklace handed down from another aunt, the sterling silver tranquility ball that my mother-in-law used to wear (I wore it on Thanksgiving Day and my nephew, now in his 30’s with 2 girls of his own, saw it and yelled out “Hey, Nan’s magical fairy ball necklace!”…he remembered!), and of course, those Cherub shoulder dusters, I am transported back to a time of pure JOY.
It is often written that of the 5 senses, smell is the one that conjures the most vivid memories, but for me, it’s a jewelry box. When I open it, I see what is truly priceless: time beautifully spent with family and friends.