I’ve been in Tiffany’s once. The flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan is stately and refined, a Rockefeller to my Clampett.
My office was nearby and I went during my lunch break. I can’t remember why I was there. I certainly couldn’t afford to buy anything; I must have been “browsing.” Now I think, more than anything, I wanted to be Holly Golightly for a few minutes. I wanted to capture her panache and her pluck, two things that you need at your first job in New York City. I was short on both, and I felt like a fish out of water. Holly Golightly could relate.
In “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” Audrey Hepburn says, “I don’t want to own anything until I find a place where me and things go together. I’m not sure where that is but I know what it is like. It’s like Tiffany’s…nothing very bad could happen to you there.”
When I left that company, my co-workers pooled their funds and bought me a ceramic Tiffany’s box. It’s a few inches square and a few inches deep, just big enough to hold a few mementoes. It’s one of my favorite keepsakes. Every morning when I open the lid on the turquoise box, I think of them and how they lifted my spirits by giving me a little bit of a magical place where nothing very bad could happen to me.
Walking along the beach wearing flippers and a snorkel, there doesn’t seem to be a graceful way to enter the water. At least, not for me. I stumble, pitching this way and that, spin in a herky-jerky motion, and finally belly flop into the abyss, scaring away all of the fish I’ve come to see.
Then, something magical happens. I’m weightless and gliding along like a penguin. I feel hermetically sealed in this underwater world. All I can hear is my Darth Vader-style breathing, which is oddly reassuring. Everything is filtered through a blue-green lens. Before my trip, when I’d seen photos of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I was sure they’d been retouched. The water couldn’t possibly be that color in real life. It is. In fact it is so pristine, I can clearly see that nurse shark meandering toward me. I know that not every shark is a man-eater with a grudge, but shouldn’t I be slightly concerned? I’m not.
St. John, USVI
About 3,000 miles away from here, just west of the Grand Canyon, are where the Havasupai live. They are the “people of the blue-green water.” The waterfalls that run through Havasu Canyon are sacred. The people honor the blue-green water, and it protects them. I remember this, and maybe this is why I’m calm. I am cocooned in this warm water, bathed in blue-green light.
The Navajo word is dootł’izh. That word is modified if the color of the turquoise is more blue, green, or yellow. The stone is worn so the gods can recognize the wearer as one of their “cherished earth children” and the wearer’s prayers can be heard.
At the National Museum of the American Indian, there is a special exhibit of Navajo jewelry. Each piece is the handiwork of the Yazzie family from Gallup, New Mexico. Each piece is a work of art. How many hours did it take to polish and etch this necklace?
I have a pendant that I keep in my Tiffany’s box. It’s a stone mass produced to look like turquoise. I wonder how many seconds it took to make that pendant.
The Navajo word is hózhó. It means beauty, harmony, and balance. Hózhó is the goal. “What you strive for in this world is hózhó. How you live, how you treat one another…how you live in your surroundings,” says Navajo artist Conrad House.
The artistry of making this jewelry is hózhó for the Yazzie family. I’m hoping my little bits of turquoise bring me hózhó too.
Have a great weekend, everyone!