On my desk is a plastic baby doll dressed in pink (another story) and a large glass jar with a lid. In its former life on my desk at work, the jar held trail mix of raisins, walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, and sunflower seeds for visitors, now it holds treasures of shells, sand, notes, and rocks. It also holds two prized possessions – an orange rind rose and a rock slice.
When you are veterans of a Holocaust, have been homeless for most of your teenage years and twenties stuff and money matter most. They matter more than shelter or food, because stuff can be traded for food and money buys food. My childhood home was one where money, material items (stuff), and food mattered. Often we believed they mattered more than we did. They argued about everything; even the plastic covered couch and who had the right to sit on it.
I spent most of my childhood learning how to become a “success.” I have a very different idea of what that means to me now than what it did then. From my teens on, I spent most of my time trying to succeed at becoming financially and materially successful according to the values of my parents, which meant education, nice car, good job, great house, money in the bank. The American Dream personified.
In 1992, there was a recession that hit Southern California harder than any earthquake I have lived through. I lost everything of material value – my job, my house, and all my stuff. Everything I had worked for my entire life, with very few options (or so I thought then), and very little money left. California became a bad dream as I moved near my family in Phoenix, Arizona. Probably should mention here that I married in 1967 to escape Phoenix and the family, so having to come back divorced and broke was a fate worse than prison or death (one and the same in my book).
One day, contemplating my financial failures with daily reminders from the family, I wandered into Van’s Rock Shop on 7th Street in Phoenix for lack of a job or anything better to do with my time than write or listen to them. I must have looked like death walking, wandering up and down the aisles of this block long store.
A young female clerk came over and tapped me on the shoulder. I thought she was going to ask me if I needed help. When I turned she handed me a polished rock slice – pale tan with colored concentric rings of dark rust and orange (like a slice of an old cut tree). I told her I didn’t have the money to pay for it (it was $1.98).
This beautiful young woman with a sandy blond pony tail whispered, “It’s a present. Remember it took millions of years of stress and pain to create something this beautiful. It’s yours.” I clamped my jaw shut, my eyes filled with tears ready to drop, and nodded “thank you” to keep from sobbing.
I have a clear glass cookie jar on my desk filled with treasures. My rock slice and orange rind rose are inside. Remember it takes millions of years of stress and pain to create something this beautiful. It’s free, it’s yours. May I share them with you?
All rights reserved. ©2009 by Sara Fryd