The small ivory figurine that stands on a windowsill in my living room was given to me by a friend way back in high school, which makes our relationship — with both my girlfriend and the figurine — older than the one with my husband.
The figurine is of a young girl of Asian descent. She stands about 4 inches tall when perched on her carved black pedestal and leans against a bamboo broom, as if taking a break from her chores. She wears traditional Chinese peasant clothing and wood sandals. Her hair is braided and the palm of her free hand rests lightly at her waist.
Carol (my dear friend who shares the same first name) and I first connected in 10th grade American Lit class when we discovered we both liked the works of Edgar Allen Poe. I was writing a research paper on him and one day she casually asked me, “Do you like Poe?” Her voice in that moment had almost a British lilt to it that still cracks us up when we relive that first friendly ice-breaker.
Carol was a singer/guitar player and we’d get together after school to practice singing together on tunes written by James Taylor, Elton John, etc. We grew up together pursuing local live music, first in coffeehouses, then clubs — everything from folk to bluegrass to blues. Years later we stood up for each other at our weddings, Carol even playing her guitar at mine. We’ve had the great and rare fortune to maintain our friendship through all these years, miles, college, babies, careers.
Neither of us recalls exactly when she gave me the figurine but it’s since been a resident in every place I’ve lived.
Unfortunately, it’s also fallen off the shelf in every place I’ve lived. Yes, the figurine’s little head has rolled … I’ve glued her back together more times than I care to admit, the most recent being last week. She’s also been put back together at the hands of my husband and son.
Seeing her head separated from her shoulders is comically tragic. She doesn’t deserve to lose her head, nor the tip of her broom or piece of her braid — she’s suffered various fractures over time. A length of her braid that was too slender to reattach is now missing altogether.
I’d like to think Carol gave her to me so that I would take a break from my own household chores whenever I’d glance her way. The young girl also reminds me joy can be found in even simple chores. Her half smile and relaxed stance make her seem happily present in the moment.
Maybe I should have put her in a protected place behind a glass cabinet long ago but, like long relationships, she’s withstood the years and the mishaps with grace. She seems content where she is, and, like the Zen koan, reminds me to be, too.
Community Editor Carol Marino may be reached at 758-4440 or firstname.lastname@example.org.