Tess and tangled necklaces

img_4009Tonight while mindlessly consuming the plethora of mediocre content that is instastories, I came across a photo of someone complaining about a tangled necklace.  And then I smiled, cause I thought of Tess.

I thought of Tess and the specific kind of intimacy that comes from living with someone for three and a half years. You see, sometime during those years when Tess and I lived together, I found out that she loves to untangle necklaces.

I’m an adult woman, and feel like therefore I should know how to travel with jewelry. I should take better care of my things, I should own one of those jewelry organizer thingies and actually use it. But I don’t, really. When I’m packing for a trip I haphazardly throw all my earrings, necklaces, and bracelets in something terribly uncouth like a ziploc bag. The result is always a comically large ball of tangled chains, beads, and wires that gives me anxiety whenever I try to gently tug at just one bit of one necklace to begin the untangling process.

I have a lot of shame around this habit, but Tess took it all away the day she saw me working on untangling one I happened to really want to wear (otherwise I wouldn’t have given it the time of day). She BEGGED me, with a gleeful, almost hungry look in her eyes to let her tackle it. I sheepishly handed it over to her and off to work she went.

A good 10 minutes later, the ball of materials were four separate necklaces. She was so satisfied. I was so embarrassed, but I had my jewelry back.

And thus began a ritual between us. I would go on a trip, and then upon coming home and unpacking, I’d knock on her bedroom door, still sheepish: “Will you help me with these?” And she was so excited every time.

Eventually, I started saving them for her. I wouldn’t even try to do them myself. I had no patience for it, and she loved it, so why bother? She never made me feel any kind of shame for letting them get so bad. She was happy I did. She liked doing it that much.

I moved away, and had a set of three or four that got horribly tangled during the move. I didn’t wear any of them at my new place for months, because I didn’t want to work on untangling them. I still didn’t have the patience, and it made me miss her. Even though I wasn’t planning on wearing them necessarily, when I finally saw her again on a friends trip, I said “I have a present for you,” and proudly presented her with the ball of necklaces.

“YES!” she exclaimed, and perched on the edge of the couch, prying out the necessary loops with her fingernails until they were all separate again. Our friends looked at us like we were nuts. “It’s a roommate thing,” we said.

There are so many reasons why Tess and I were wonderful roommates, but for some reason this story sticks out to me. She saw me at much, much lower points to be sure (I highly recommend going through your worst break ups with her by your side), but still, how lovely it is to not have to hide anything from the person you live with, even your tangled necklaces. How wonderful to have someone who enjoys doing the chore you hate for you. How sweet to not be shamed for it. How fun to complement each other in that small, weird way.

Living alone has some perks of course, but there’s no one I’m slowly learning more about now except for myself.

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Author: Alex Ethridge

Hi, I'm glad you found me.

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