The sun was high in the sky and as I rounded the corner, I was nearly blinded by a glaring light which bounced off my glasses. The object was shiny and the sun refracted from it. After taking a few steps to the side, I moved over to the shade of a tree and determined it was an open jewelry box that lay in the street. The jewelry box was pink on the outside and laying backward on its lid – the mirror in the lid caught the sun’s rays. The jewelry box was lined in pale pink velvet and had two shallow tiers and an indentation on which a stationary ballerina posed on one toe. As I got closer, I saw the jewelry box was empty and the velvet lining was a little torn and well worn, especially where dark smudges were on the slotted areas. The jewelry box sure looked out of place in the middle of the street and I was surprised a car had not come along and flattened it. I don’t know why, but I felt compelled to take my foot and nudge it over to the curb and up onto the grass. I continued on my walk thinking about that little jewelry box. The garbage truck had already been down the street by virtue of empty garbage cans scattered haphazardly along the way. Query: Did the box fall out of someone’s trash? Or the garbage truck itself? Did a burglar break in and take the jewelry box, and realize later there was nothing valuable and simply discarded it? Did a young girl turn into a young woman and thought the jewelry box was now babyish and in a sudden act of defiance threw it into the garbage? I was just wondering all these things while walking along.
I think every young girl had a pink jewelry box with a tiny ballerina inside at one time in her life. I remember mine. It was my first jewelry box. Every time the lid was opened, the little ballerina, pretty in pink, wearing her flimsy tulle skirt, form-fitting leotard and with hair slicked back in a bun, would pirouette to the strains of Fur Elise. I used my jewelry box to protect my treasured initial “L” pendant my parents bought me and to store all my girlish trinkets, among them, my diary key which was on a narrow red ribbon.
When I was in my teens, wearing clunky rings on each finger was all the rage and huge oval “mood rings” were also a big fad. In ninth grade typing class the prim and proper school marm, Miss Miller, would go around the class to ensure all the girls had removed their “hardware” before typing on the rickety Royal manual typewriters. She said the “hardware” ruined our rhythm, wreaked havoc with our typing cadence and slowed our typing speed. We were rapped on the knuckles if we forgot to dump the rings in a pile next to the typewriter. (Those of you who ever used a manual typewriter back in the day are nodding your heads while remembering how you got into the rhythm when typing – you’d zip along, hear the “ding” then swing that carriage return lever back and away you’d go again … and again … until you got to the end of your document, or typing paper – whichever came first. None of that wraparound text like we enjoy today.) I digressed, but those chunky rings were not favored by my folks either – my mother said they were “cheap and distasteful” and my father said they might scratch the furniture, so mine were removed while in the house, thus those gaudy baubles would find their way into my jewelry box at the end of the school day and on weekends. Soon, a greenish/black residue marred the velvet tiers and similarly tarnished my fingers from the cheap metal.
I had my pink ballerina jewelry box for years, then my parents bought me my first grown-up jewelry box and the same year, the furniture store awarded all the female graduates from Lincoln Park High School a tiny Lane keepsake cedar chest. I gave my ballerina jewelry box to the Salvation Army along with other items I had outgrown, hoping someone else would likewise stash her beads and baubles and girlish trinkets in it and daydream while mesmerized by the spinning ballerina just like I once was.
I have an inquisitive mind, so silly me … hours later, I am still thinking about the owner of the jewelry box and reflecting on still another facet of my girlhood days.