“The things they carried”

In the light of the morning by the angle of the sun there is hair, animal hair or dust on most every surface in our den. There are streaks in the glass that need to be removed. But there is also the first bloom on the orchids, and there are streaks of rainbows reflecting off a prism hanging from a set of Mardi Gras beads I got more than 25 years ago from someone at college. That cheap string of golden plastic beads holds a prism my mom gave me after Christmas break when I was going back to school. I wanted the prism because it came from the Jersey shore, one of our family vacations, the late 70s. The store sold prisms cut in every imaginable shape. The store was alit with rainbows. There would have been a small chime to announce our arrival when we stepped inside and the clerk looked up at this family of tourists, a boy with his parents and theirs. They’d walk out spending a little on one of the sun catchers and the clerk would wrap it in tissue paper and put it in a bag with the receipt. The prism never got hung in our apartment as I remember it, growing up. Either there wasn’t a place for it or it was deemed too special (or not special enough) and so it got stowed somewhere out of sight. But I came upon it and wanted to take it off to college. For some reason (and I don’t mean to make him out as the bad guy, really) my dad didn’t want me to take the prism. Maybe he thought I’d lose it, and I can see why. But mom handed it to me when I left and gave me a kind of wink, and it’s with me still to this day. Hanging from the same thread, some cheap set of beads a roommate gave me in college. It cuts across the clutter and imperfections of our home. It exists on the surface for one reason alone, to catch and reflect light. No one will ever know about the store or the Jersey shore. It is a small but very precious part of me hanging in our front window. If only for ourselves, and most importantly: these are the things we carry to remember who we are and where we came from.

Categories: identity, Memoir, prose, writing

Tags: , , , , , , ,

25 replies

  1. Ooh, I like that image of the prism and the plastic beads, hanging, catching light, special only to you with your memories stuck to them. No one else knows why some items are so precious to us, would never know unless they sat in our head all those years ago.
    My mum gave me a couple of prisms years ago – big chunky things that were meant as pendants (not very me!). I put thread through the holes and use them as Christmas tree decorations every year. They have to be carefully positioned so they catch the light.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like that story Lynn, that’s good…hope you can enjoy some spring blooms without triggering thoughts of work 😜…soon enough. Be well! Enjoy your evening! Thanks for reading and commenting here. Bill


  2. You chose to ignore the dust and focus on a beautiful memory- there is a lesson here for everyone. Thank you 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoy having people tell the stories behind their mementos and souvenirs, even random pebbles can hold a memory sometimes.
    I also appreciate people who can tell me how to spell those two words, got both of them wrong, maybe I’ll say keepsake next time. Must be the time change has disrupted my memory.
    I was thinking, if I got a really big prism, maybe the beam of light would incinerate the dust motes floating around my apartment.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My Dad worked on the early space telescopes and used to bring prisms home from work that they had been polishing and perfecting for their equipment. I loved them. Wish I had one now. So many memories attached by such a thin string, kind of a metaphor for life, isn’t it Bill?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nostalgia revisited, a chip of history to relish.
    Appreciate trying to see the possible good purpose on dad’s restrictions then.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love that you kept them

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Really lovely Bill.
    Rainbows cutting across the clutter and imperfections of our home.
    My grandparents had a wrought iron chandelier with glass prisms. There were few rainbows, due to my grandfather’s pipe smoke. I still have a canister of glass prisms somewhere in the garage, waiting for a story I suspect.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This one reminds me of the criminally under-rated Stones song called She’s A Rainbow, off Their Satanic Majesties Request. And also the Floyd album cover. And I don’t mind having those two “thingies” mashing about in my head at the same time at all. It’s nice. Prisms were never a thing in my neck of the woods, but rabbits feet were.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Prisms throw more late than rabbits feet don’t they?! Thank you for sharing those nice images of yours too! Criminally under-rated, ha. That Floyd album cover is disturbing, I know the one.


  9. Memories are like prisms. You reflect the light of earlier days, and they come out in new colors.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The contrast between the plastic mardi gras beads and the glass prisms reminds us that memories are of many textures…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Is it the case that you don’t think about it for months on end because it’s just there? Until you do notice it and it all comes back.

    Liked by 1 person

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