Tales From the Counter #2: The Cord
by Jenny Wonderling
A mother and daughter came into Nectar a few weeks ago. They were peaceful, gentle with each other, quiet indications and acknowledgements passing back and forth between their placid faces. When they stepped in front of me at the counter to pay, I noticed a burgundy velvet ribbon encircling the daughter’s wrist. My attention was drawn there, as if it was important, worthy.
“I like that,” I said, noticing how it slumped easily, a remnant of something timeless. Her mother then burst her own wrist forth. “I have one too,” she announced proudly. “I love that she finds beauty in such a simple, ordinary thing.” A mother’s pride.
But it wasn’t ordinary at all, this inherently elegant thing. It was something much more: a cord that connected them before me in an overt way and to the women they secretly carried within them. Then the daughter turned her wrist over in a careless motion to indicate the way it was bound, the bow, the loops of infinity, of child and woman. And there, at the nape of the wrist, a collection of numbers and dashes amassed into what appeared to be a date, obviously potent, indelible, forever gathering curiosity and wrapped with a bow of velvet. Somehow I knew to ask, and one look at her soft features and eyes and I knew she would answer.
She didn’t look a tattoo “type.” Simple, almost conservative clothing, a gaze that swept the room for information and then turned shyly downward.
“It’s the date my grandmother signed her Green Card,” she answered smiling gently, pushing her wrist toward me so I could have a better look.
“And why was that significant?”
“Because she was Swedish and my American grandfather was stationed there. They walked past each other in the street and it was literally love at first sight. They wrote each other for a year and then she risked everything to join him here in America. She took the boat across the ocean alone fueled on spontaneity, a new sense of freedom, and the power of following one’s heart. And all that made it possible for me to exist, for my mother to exist, for us to have the life we have. So the day her Green Card was signed was understandably pretty significant…”
“Wow, thank you for sharing that,” I said.
And then they gripped their new purchase, one I had carefully selected somewhere or other, and now they would carry with them and place in their world, spreading energy and intentions that were mine and now ours, as their story has become part of my own.
I appreciated what appeared to be genuine mutual respect between them, and a rare deep love. I will also add a subtle almost imperceptible love of self, an intangible thing that breeds grace and an openness with the world. Achieving and maintaining these qualities are not easy to maintain in a culture that can often wear away at familial connections, history, and support.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, here’s to the women who live passionately or quietly-- grandmothers, mothers, sisters and daughters across all borders and all languages!