years ago, there was a tiny boutique on ninth avenue that sold beauty. the walls, the tables, the floor, every available inch of surface was occupied by loveliness, covered in things, objects whose sole purpose in existence was to make your eyes smile. the kind of place where you knew the owners, and where you were happy to open up your wallet for them. during the wintry holiday season, this magical place held special shopping nights for friends and neighbors in hell's kitchen, and after work, in the eleven o'clock hour, i trudged out of my theater, past snowy bars and restaurants filled with revelers to the one shop window still warmly gleaming, where i was greeted with a glass of wine, welcomed in the hopes that i would complete my shopping list by midnight, and stay for another drink.
the last season i shopped there was the year of the towers. the year that gift giving needed to be balm more than bounty. my favorite object was a delicate, tiny, bejeweled hamsa hand on a thin silvery necklace. i'd been introduced to the hamsa several months before at my very first seder (another night of beauty). i fell in love with this charm, a hand that reached across not only judaism, but also christianity and islam. it was all i wanted to fill my basket with. i didn't care what religion my friends and coworkers ascribed to, whether they celebrated christmas or kwanzaa or hanukkah or the winter gleaming moon...it was my intention to buy every tiny hand i could afford, and decorate as many necks as i could with this small piece of great good luck.
some loved it, some didn't. no, maybe that's not the best way to put it...some loved it, some were confused by it. a hamsa hand for christmas? religion is a wide thing to me. i grew up roman catholic, i was an altar girl in fact, but as the years went by, there seemed to be too much wonder out there for any one belief to be THE be-all-and-end-all. there's a truth in everything, there is something to learn from everything. so the gift made perfect sense to me.
as much as i loved those benevolent baubles, i never bought one for myself. though i stared longingly at the little boxes until they left for their new homes, holidays are for giving, non? later, life found us in LA, escaping from the financial gray skies looming over the city, and when we returned, i found my favorite little store didn't weather that storm. cyberspace was taking over.
a few weeks ago, i got an email from michal golan studios that read just as warmly as the welcome in that beloved brick and mortar shop. they'd seen my blog-- really seen it, to the point of applauding my Haphazard Use Of Capitalization-- and wondered if i'd like a pair of earrings, specifically to go with my version of rachel's brasilia dress, which they admired. (heads up, retailers hoping to create relationships: that's how ya do it.)
sadly, that stretch cotton went the way of the dodo, so i was invited to browse their website. on my couch, but still! with a glass of wine.
when my eyes fell on this necklace, my heart skipped several beats. as beautiful as that long ago gifted bauble, but even better...this tiny swavorski encrusted, beaded hamsa was attached to a rosary. WHAT GENIUS CROSS POLLINATION. i've worn it almost every day since it landed on my doorstep--it was part of the inspiration for my duster coat. it feels like so much more than a pretty trinket. it feels like the best parts of all the religions around my neck.
am i waxing poetical? let me climb down off my pulpit, no offense to trinkets, i like trinkets ever so much!! the abundance of holi-days this past weekend seemed the right time to share this story. if you'd like to see more, trinkets and holy art both, do hop over to michal's place. there's all kinds of beauty there. i suggest a glass of rosé as your companion... especially if your religion of the moment is welcoming spring.