Alexandra Duncan

Science Fiction. Fantasy. Feminism.


I've had the same jewelry box since I was eight, a small pastel clamshell container my grandmother gave me around the same time I first got my ears pierced.

It's pretty much the perfect size for an eight-year old who just bought her first pair of earrings (Halloween bats, if you want to know), but maybe not for a twenty-eight year-old. I don't have a lot of jewelry, mostly because I have a weird allergy to metal that makes me break out in oozing hives, but I do have a few thing I care about - my engagement ring, a string of antique glass Mardi Gras beads my dad gave me, an Indian-head penny pendant that belonged to my firecracker Great Aunt Ruth - along with some earrings and costume jewelry for work. It all stopped fitting inside the jewelry box long ago.

Several weeks ago, I decided it was time to start looking for a new box. I tried my regular discount store stomping grounds before moving up the ladder to Kohl's, Amazon, and even the mall department stores, where I felt even more bedraggled than usual. ("Those are a seasonal item," the woman at the jewelry counter sniffed.) I utterly failed to find anything that didn't smell like toxic glue or look like it was made for a five-year-old. Jewelry boxes? For grown women? I might as well have been looking for a whalebone corset.

Tonight, my quest finally ended in the clearance section of Bed, Bath, and Beyond. There was one jewelry box in the entire store - made of pretty red-stained wood with a glass top, a little dinged, but still elegant. (And not smelling of toxic glue.) I brought it home, cleaned off my shelf in the bathroom, and transferred everything to its new home.

I guess the more fashionable thing would have been to buy one of those tiny wire trees or dressmaker's forms I see everywhere and hang my baubles on that, but part of the reason I started looking for a new jewelry box in the first place was to find something more grown-up, something I could keep and use for the next twenty years. I have a feeling the trees and dressmaker's forms will eventually go out of style (and also that my cats would knock them over and add all of my earrings to their dragon's hoard in the back of the hall closet). At first, this whole escapade made me feel old-fashioned and grandmotherly, but now I don't mind. My grandmothers are awesome, interesting ladies. I could do a lot worse than to turn out like them.

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