I spent most of my teen summers as a camp counselor at the local YMCA. It was the best.
Part of every summer in those sartorially challenging early 90s was the accumulation of whatever friendship bracelets were in. Not necessarily an exchange on bracelets like you might do in 5th grade, more an acknowledgement that this year’s craft teacher dug string or lanyard (Was mine the only camp that called it gimp? And did you know it’s really called scoubidou? And is that where Scooby Doo comes from?) or beads. During swim class or on rainy days we’d work on our crafts, pretending we were bored but being dutiful, and over the course of 8-week sessions clog our arms with bracelets. This is probably an exaggeration. No, it is. But the genearal conceit is truthful.
I’ve abandoned that kind of thing since leaving teaching and since, you know, crossing into adulthood in general. I don’t need to wear the weird lopsided whatever a student made me anymore. I’ve opted for less jewelry so Lo does less pulling and tugging. I know that soon enough I’ll be gifted all manner of things to wear as the tot grows up so for now, no lanyard for me.
Last evening, though, I looked down at my wrist and realized I am, in effect, wearing friendship bracelets.
The red bead is coral. It’s on a thin white string. It’s meant to not last.
It’s from a Blessingway, a new-to-me tradition that can be held in place of or in tandem with a babyshower (ours was flower wreath and more eating awesome food than the link). A circle of women come together around a mama-to-be and pledge to support and love on her and the wee one. We each bring a bead (oh GOD I hate choosing things like ONE bead to represent me. Not because I’m so spectacularly multi-faceted and interesting but because I fear I’m not) and it is strung on a necklace for the be-laboring lady to find focus. Coral happens to be this friend’s stone of choice. I’m so excited for her. So excited for her husband. She was one of the urban tribe whose support pulled me through that so-hard summer. Her husband randomly shows up with pie on our doorstep. They are, simply, spectacular human beings. What a lucky little! And me? I’m excited to support them in whatever way I/we can even if it’s giving them space and time to figure it out before descending on them to snuggle the heck outta their newborn (so they can nap/shower/exhale).
The green string should last a bit longer. It’s mean to. It has a small lightbulb charm, the take away from our most recent Forth salon. Our theme for this event was “Letting Go.” We were a bit nervous that the magic of the first event was impossible to repeat. It was. But there was still magic. It was just different. And awesome, too.
They represent the types of relationships I am so glad to be fostering in my 30s. I am so lucky and proud of the women in my life. From the women whose tots make my tot smile and whose friendships make long days shorter to my brainiac friends in a bookclub that (gasp) reads the book to the friendships we’re forming through Forth, there’s just an abundance of lovely in my life.
I’m enjoying my summer arms with their friendship bracelets even if I wear more sunscreen and, you know, have a real job now. In those halcyon days, I’d probably have close to 30-something bracelets. Now, I’m ok just being 30-something myself.