The One With Turquoise

I.

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.

Tiffany's box

II.

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 2

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.

Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls

III.

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?  turquoise jewlery

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 hózhóIt means beauty, harmony, and balance. Hózhó is the goal. “What you strive for in this world is hózhóHow 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

turquoise jewlery

Have a great weekend, everyone! 

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30 comments

  1. Intriguing post, Jackie. It’s interesting that we’re recognizing now in the 21st Century the value of living in harmony and balance. This is what the Native American tribes/artisans (and other indigenous cultures) have been doing for thousands of years.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautiful post, I love how you go from blue memory to blue memory. That Tiffany box is lovely, such a nice gift from your coworkers. I remember going into Tiffany’s too, when I worked in the city, to capture a magical moment.

    That pool of water is absolutely stunning.

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    1. I had no idea how much variety there is in turquoise stones. There are so many different shades of color. And the veining is unique to each stone, like a fingerprint. That’s how the gods were able to identify the wearer. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What an uplifting and lovely web of various degrees of one color. I’ve always gravitated toward the stillness and calmness of blue. Havasu Falls is a place I hope to visit one day. Have a good weekend, Jackie.

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment.

      Havasu Caynon is not the easiest place to get to, but it’s well worth the trip. I hope you get to go soon. The photos don’t do the landscape justice.

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  4. I like that Navajo saying … Hadn’t heard it before but it is so true. So glad to get a story behind Turquoise and depth of meaning it has for people. I’ve always liked the stone because it reminded me of waters, now I have an even deeper appreciation. Thanks for the post.

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    1. Before I’d seen the work of the Yazzie family, I’d never thought how much artistry goes into jewelry. I have a new appreciation for the creativity and craftsmanship they have.

      Have a great weekend.

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  5. I have not shopped at Tiffany’s in years, but I have sprung for gifts there for select special people. The first time was almost twentyfive years ago. I was friends with a young woman who literally made it out of Bosnia as war waged in her country with little more than the clothes on her back. Her story is too complex to get into here, but over the course of several harrowing months she reached NYC and landed a crummy soul-sucking job at ABC News alongside me. Quickly, we hit it off. All her family, her friends and her worldly goods were in a house in her bombed out neighborhood. She knew that everything was lost and many of her friends were killed. Psychologically, I cannot imagine what it was like to never be able to go home and to live in constant fear for those left behind. As her birthday approached, I wanted to do something meaningful for her. She had a battered address book with all the names and numbers of everyone near and dear to her. It was quite an eyesore and a source of embarrassment for her. I decided to go to Tiffany’s to find her a replacement. They had a splendid selection, but the clerk, a snobby woman, insisted on showing me all of their low end ones. I was so offended. So, I said in my most authoritative tone of voice, “Why are you showing me these cheap models? Miss, do you have any idea who I am?” Her blood froze. I continued, “Clearly, you don’t. Show me that one!” I pointed at one that was quilted leather in royal blue. The edge of the pages were gold gilt and it had a gold plated pen. My budget was $30. This one was $100. I handed over my American Express card and ordered, “Gift wrap it.” The clerk nervously stammered, “Yes, yes, Ms. —?” Then she looked at my name on my credit card and said it. Needless to say, it was money well spent. My friend was over the moon when she saw that Tiffany’s box. Over the years she got promoted and we saw less of each other. Before I quit in early 2004, I stopped by her office to bid her a fond farewell. She was on the phone when she ushered me in. That address book was sitting open on her desk, a little worn, but still holding up well. Today, it’s probably been replaced by a smartphone, but it touched me to see that she was still using it after so many years.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is a wonderful story, V. I agree — money well spent. What a generous gesture. The address book clearly meant a lot to her. I bet whenever she used that book, she thought of you and your kindness. The best gifts are the ones that are unprompted and come from the heart. Thanks so much for sharing. Your story made my day!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “Where me and things go together” .. finding that peaceful balance and having wonderful people along for the journey. I have heartfelt gifts lining my huge table in my quiet room; they bring me warmth and gratitude much like your pretty box.
    ( I wish I could flip flop my way into that beautiful water)

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    1. A few years ago I slowly began discarding or donating things that only served to clutter my shelves and drawers. I tried to keep only meaningful items so that whenever I look around I see things that bring warmth and gratitude, as you mentioned.

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  7. Fabulous photos as always, and sparkling turquoise writing to match! Can you believe I’ve never been to Havasupi Falls? It’s something I desperately want to do before my bones get any more creaky! Thanks for sharing your Tiffany’s story and that gorgeous memento box.

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  8. I love how you drew these experiences with a common thread together.

    My mother-in-law loved turquoise, and loved rings. When she died last summer, each of her daughters, daughter-in-law, niece and granddaughters got one. Just last week my niece posted a Facebook picture of Grandma’s turquoise ring on her hand, and we all chimed in with our memories of her.

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