My husband is hurtling down the country on a train at present. I hate when he goes away like this. It's funny how he travels to work every day and I don't worry, because he always does. Yet now he's headed on a different track in a different capsule of metal and it's at the back of my mind. It's not like I think anything bad will happen, it's just that the change skews things. How would I get to him if he needed me?
When I first started going out with him we were close right away. You know how there are couples who've been together for five months and are still reluctant to refer to each other as "boyfriend"/"girlfriend"? We were the opposite of that. We started out a few days prior to Christmas. We loved each other and said so by the end of the first month of 2006. For Valentines day he got me a bracelet. He knew I would like jewellery, knew I wanted all those token gestures of relationships that get put in your head from external sources of information. He bought me a silver bracelet made by an independent jeweller in Glasgow. I think he ordered it online, though I don't know for sure. It was delicate and silver, little chain links with minuscule charms on. It had a silver heart, a silver star and a quartz star. It came in an irregular red fabric pouch with white dots. I wore it every single day.
One day late last year I came home from work and it wasn't there. It being silver had made the tiny clasp move with my body heat before, but I had always felt it slip away. This time I hadn't and I noticed it was gone but it wasn't a cruel blow yet. I thought it would turn up, that I would find it somewhere. I was complacent even after it was gone, assuming it would reappear as it always had done. Perhaps I was being taught about that complacency. It didn't turn up and I began to realise it was lost and I suddenly realised how much it meant to me. I searched in as many places as I could remember looking for it. I felt the elation of the possibility of its return when I remembered somewhere else it may be lying, and the stinging defeat of it's not being there. It had always been there before, on my wrist every day. I felt naked without it and where it used to live was ugly and old. I stopped wearing anything on that wrist and I mourned the loss. People will always tell you that things are just that; objects and nothing more. Cars are "just heaps of metal" when lost in a crash, and jewellery given by a loved one no replacement for the person themselves. I don't know about the truth in that. I felt as though I had been careless with our entire relationship letting it slip just because I could and not guarding it enough.
I got pregnant not long after and by the end of December last year I was sick all the time. We told the family early because it was so bad. Our anniversary came and I didn't even realise what day it was until my husband presented me with a card and tiny wrapped present. I hadn't even thought of him, hadn't got him anything, and inside the silver tissue was a little irregular red fabric pouch with red dots. He had contacted the jeweller, described the long since defunct design she had once made. It contained the same charms. It contained a new charm, a tiny silver plate with the date on it; 22.12.11. I wore it every single day.
Last Saturday we went swimming. We were going out afterwards to a market of nearly new baby items. I took my watch and fastened my wedding and engagement rings onto it, before securing the bracelet through the watch too and putting it in my bag. We swam. We dried and changed. We left the baths and as we walked to the car I clipped the bracelet on to my arm. Hours later we got home and I started to take off my jewellery and my wrist was once again naked and ugly and old. This time the pain came straight away and I shouted and it was gone and the same flooded back and I sat on the edge of the bed and let the initial outburst melt into sullen silence. Stuart went to the car to look for it immediately and I couldn't even look up. I went to the kitchen and sat on the floor and I cried and I thought of it on the ground in the mud, the small silver plate with 22.12.11 on it shining up as someone trod it further down into the earth. I imagined it being pawned. I couldn't imagine finding it and I couldn't imagine searching. Stuart returned and he didn't have it as he said nothing when he came in and he came to me and was touched by how much it had meant. I told him it was horrible that the only way to truly show just how much someone means to you was to be hurt in such a repetitive way. I told of my carelessness. I hadn't learned my lesson. I would learn now. I told him never to buy me anything like that again. I told him I loved him and he told me not to blame myself and I cried a lot because that's what it's like being pregnant and emotional.
None of this actually means anything I suppose. No-one would judge love on such trivial and tangible measures. It's hard to prove love and when it's really intense it's hard to find any medium through which to display it. I don't even have a picture of the second bracelet. I don't want to forget the date. There is no end point to this discussion, only that it hurts when things like this happen. And that hurt stems not from your own loss but the symbolism existent in what happened, and how careless and stupid you can be with the things that matter most to you.