Sunday, August 27, 2006


I feel old. Not really super-old, just slightly, eerily not the right age. Most of my friends here either just graduated from college, or have been out for one year, and I've been in the quote real world unquote for five.

That doesn't make me feel superior; it actually makes me feel kind of sad. What have I done with that time, and what have I learned from it? These people three or four years younger than I am can do everything I can do. Well, except they probably can't make quite as good a cappuccino as I can. I did get pretty skilled at that.

Yesterday I woke up feeling somewhat worse for wear. There was a party Friday night, and I had a couple of glasses of wine, and I didn't drink any water before going to bed. Realizing that lying around wasn't going to make me feel better, I forced myself out into the world and went to get coffee. The Mudhouse was way too crowded to hang around, so I got my iced coffee to go and wandered east along the mall. I stopped at a kiosk where I saw some pretty jewelry for sale.

I like semiprecious stones. I'm not sure where this interest came from, but I remember buying a tiger's eye ring at the Maryland Science Center in fifth grade and wearing it until the stone came unglued. I learned about hematite, which looked like solid mercury to me. Then in middle school I got interested in beading, and I bought strings of sodalite and malachite chips to use in necklaces. Every time I went to a natural history museum I headed straight for the gems and minerals exhibit.

So I started talking to the woman working at the kiosk about the jewelry she was selling. She showed me blue moonstone, iolite, ocean jasper, carnelian, citrine. I examined a pair of amethyst earrings that iridesced blue, a turquoise bracelet with a pattern of brown veins that looked like tree branches in winter, a pendant made from a tiny geode. She told me she did crystal healing. I didn't tell her I didn't believe in it; I just listened. I told her how I loved garnet and peridot, but wanted to try something new. She picked me out a pair of tourmaline earrings I never would have chosen for myself, with tiny cascading pink, green and black stones. She asked me if I'd studied gems before; just a hobby, I told her.

After I paid for my earrings, some other customers came by and I saw that the woman was going to be busy, so I thanked her and went to leave. She reached out and hugged me. I realized, walking home, that I've actually learned quite a few things since I was 22. Too many to enumerate, in fact. But it all adds up to me being a much more functional person than I was then, with much better judgment, more social grace, and a lot more courage.

I'm here in C'ville to accomplish two things: get a law degree, and be comfortable in my life again. Sometime later I'll tell more of the story of the five years since I left Charlottesville the first time, but suffice it to say that my reasons for coming back were a lot better than my reasons for leaving. So I may be older than most of my classmates, and that might feel a little weird, but I know I belong here, and that's much more important.


Blogger C. Stapleton said...

I admire you very much AND now I can say that I admire your Munchkin-playing skills too! :)

8/27/06, 11:33 PM  
Blogger Gwen said...

Awww, really? Thanks, that was a very well-timed nice thing to say. That was also a really fun game.

8/28/06, 2:35 AM  
Blogger KQB said...

cool blog :)

8/28/06, 9:37 AM  

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