There is a drawer in my bathroom that is top secret, off limits, do-not-touch protected.
And my children love to get their hands on that drawer just as often as they can. When I was a child, my hands were paddy paws, as my mom liked to say — as in, my little paddy paws left fingerprints all over the place and touched things they shouldn’t. My children’s hands are like little raccoon fingers, sneaking in and sneaking out like little bandits. Their paddy paws don’t like to listen and obey their mother when she asks nicely. Their paddy paws sneak over to that drawer and go exploring for shiny things, rings and lipstick whenever they can.
“Get your paddy paws off of my necklace,” I like to say when they’re caught red-handed. Actually, I’ve never said that. I’m not usually that convivial when they’re twisting my chains into knots I can’t undo.
Nevertheless, the three necklaces I have are in that drawer, and my children know it, and they peer at that drawer like the secret prize that is perfectly in reach but guarded by a dragon who bellows when she gets mad.
I need a jewelry box.
I had a jewelry box as a child, and it was my mother’s. My grandmother Lenore bought it for her so that she would have a place to put her own jewelry and leave my grandmother’s alone. It’s wise thinking, and perhaps I should follow it.
My mother kept her jewelry box, bought sometime in the mid-1950s, adding little trinkets to it over the years, until she passed it down to her three daughters to use as costume jewelry. As the baby, I played with the box for the longest, and I still have it.
The cover of the box is adorned with little flecks of opal and stones and glitter in the shape of Mount Fuji. The wood is painted black with Asian-themed decorations around the sides, and the inside is lined with red velvet. When you open the box, a geisha dressed in a kimono twirls in front of a line of rectangular mirrors as a music box tinkles away.
The whole box was very entrancing, mysterious and exotic to me as a child. I gingerly looked through the necklaces, sometimes trying them on. I wondered about their value and imagined great stories behind each piece. Sometimes I’d add a trinket of my own, but mostly I kept the box exactly as my mother did in 1955.