inheritance

 

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In the midst of packing yesterday, I found a ring so tiny I can’t imagine it would ever fit anyone’s fingers. It was on a brittle, dirty, knotted chain that I cut through easily with a scissors. I managed to put get it on my pinkie, but it didn’t make it to the first knuckle.  The ring is gold with a yellowish orange topaz, my birthstone.

I have no memory of anyone wearing this ring, least of all me, but I found it in a box of my mother’s jewelry, which I’ve lugged from apartment to apartment since 1998, always with the intention of either wearing the contents or purging it. Right now, I’m working on the purge. What’s survived are several bracelets, two pairs of clip on earrings that I’m saving because they remind me so much of her, some crazy beaded necklaces that I might actually wear, and various rings. The rings are the most problematic, because my mother had long, slim fingers, which I did not inherit. (Instead I got her ass, her handwriting sometimes, and her anxiety.) I don’t really know what to do with the rings, but it feels like I should keep them.

The boxes have been condensed into one bag. I threw some jewelry just now into the trash, and I feel a little like I committed a crime. The thing is, none of it reminds me of my mother anymore, it just reminds me of determined I am to be someone who is not trapped by my possessions. The writer Gary Shteyngart said about parents: “In the end, you really are still them, with all the things you’ve done to not be them.”

 

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