The Difference Between Desire and Obligation
So I normally think in metaphor. It’s weird. I know this. I’m not trying to be deep and pretentious; it’s really just how my brain has always worked. I connect things up that other people don’t always connect and I see meaning in things that might be totally meaningless. That often helps me write or explain something to people on another level, but most of the time it’s just me thinking goofy shit and keeping it to myself because I know how weird it is. Since I’ve been writing online, I’ve let a lot more of it go than I used to, and this is one of those times, I guess. Lucky you guys! Haha!
So here we go…A Tale of Two Necklaces…
I’ve never been a jewelry girl. Until two years ago, I wore my wedding ring (but not my engagement ring usually…not unless we were going somewhere ‘nice’) when I left the house and that was about it. Before I met J I wore ZERO jewelry of any kind EVER. The second gift J ever gave me was a necklace, which I wrote about a bit in other posts (it was a Valentine gift), but that wasn’t an everyday type of thing.
And then two years ago, near my birthday, an old friend of mine and his wife announced they were fundraising for international adoption. They were selling necklaces that looked like ID bracelets. The ‘tag’ was engraved with the word ‘loved’ on one side and ‘chosen’ on the other. I wanted this necklace. It’s really the first jewelry I ever looked at and WANTED. Of course I wanted my engagement and wedding rings, and I wanted that necklace J first gave me, but I never looked at them first and thought, ‘I really want this.’ Those were surprises…things I didn’t really even know I wanted until I got them. Not this necklace. I wanted to help my friend and that was a part of it. I wanted him and his wife to get to start their family and this was a small contribution I could make. I wanted to do that. But the meaning I had assigned the necklace before I even asked J for it made me REALLY REALLY want it. So long story short, J got me one of those necklaces to help my friend for my birthday two years ago. I loved it. I wore it every day. I loved putting it on. Sometimes I’d forget to take it off and slept in it, which bothered both J and I a little, because we both like the ritual of him putting it on for me every morning (that and J is obsessed with safety, so he worries about sleeping in a necklace). I wore it for an entire long weekend in January of 2017, when I went to the Women’s March in DC and J stayed home with our son. It’s the only time I’d ever traveled alone since I met J and the necklace made my trip better…easier. It made me feel connected to J while we were apart.
Then last year, around my birthday, another friend of mine was having a ‘jewelry party.’ I know many or maybe even most women will know what this is, but in case any readers don’t know, think Tupperware party, but with custom jewelry instead, and online instead of going to someone’s house to look at things. I’m one of those friends that always buys something from these parties because I have social anxiety that I’m messing up as a human if I don’t, and I know that’s why I get invited (please though, internet friends, don’t invite me to make-up and essential oils and basket and candle and whatever parties…they really make me super anxious). So I told J, ‘B invited me to an online jewelry party. I guess I should buy something.’ So he sat down with me and we looked things over and I selected another necklace that we could have more personally engraved. So I got another necklace for last year’s birthday. This one looked more coordinated with my wedding ring and it was larger and more conspicuous and more expensive. It *looked* ‘better’ than the first one we’d gotten the year before.
And then about a week before my last birthday (40!), a weird thing happened. I was doing chores in the kitchen (nothing unusual or out of the ordinary), and the chain on the ‘new’ necklace just…snapped. The necklace fell to the floor like someone had ripped it from my neck, but at most, it got momentarily caught on my shirt collar. J examined it, and he is super handy and can fix lots of things, but this just wasn’t fixable without specialty tools we don’t have and probably would never need again. “We can get another chain,” he said, and meant. He didn’t even sound put off about it. But this necklace, like the first one I had that I wanted, didn’t have a detachable charm hanging from a chain; the important, engraved part that held the meaning was a part of the chain. So getting a new chain wouldn’t really solve the problem. “I just want to go back to wearing the old one.” And that’s what I did.
For the past few months now, I’ve been wearing my ‘old’ necklace. And it’s felt better. I’ve felt better. Noticeably better. I’ve caught myself almost falling asleep with it on again because it’s a part of me; I like the way it feels on. And it’s a higher quality, even though it was less expensive. It just has a better overall feeling to it, which I used to attribute to knowing I had helped a friend in some small way to do something important and good. But now I think it feels better because I really, really WANTED this necklace when I saw it. I saw it and it had meaning. Layered meaning and all the layers were good and made me feel good and J was happy to get it for me because he could see how good it made me feel and how much I wanted it. And the second necklace was really something I got because I felt an empty obligation to get it; it was something I was expected to do whether I wanted to or not to show some hollow proof of my ‘friendship,’ and earn my friend free jewelry that probably wouldn’t last a full year without breaking (mine didn’t, and it’s not like I was kickboxing in it and stuff).
I think it’s kind of strange and somehow significant that the one I wanted, I never want to take off and is lasting, and the one I got because I felt I had to broke out of nowhere. Genuine desire is definitely of higher quality in my life than obligation.