Sunday, April 28, 2013

good-bye good luck.

Listening To: Gone by The Head & The Heart
Line Obsession: "Who spins the elaborate web that entraps the timid spirit?" - from The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan

I don’t believe in luck. Not exactly. 

I think timing is one of the great mysteries in life. Like, some people meet The Great Love of their life at 18 and stay happily married for 80 years, while equally amazing people have a harder time finding love. Or lose someone they love (...and then another someone...). Another example: some people seem to be born knowing exactly the career they’ll pursue. Or they stumble into their dream jobs at 23 while other people change careers no less than a zillion times. 

Timing baffles me, but luck is a concept I don’t believe in. Not exactly. 

And yet. 

I have this necklace. 

Actually, I had this necklace.

It was not an heirloom, and it was not an investment piece. It was simply a very cool, very trendy necklace. I bought it at Urban Outfitters several years ago. The long chain held two distinct pendants: a small silver timepiece, and a smaller, bronze, book-shaped locket. Naturally, because I am a hopeless romantic, I attached personal significance to it immediately.

The timepiece = Life is short. Don’t waste it. 
The little bronze book = Be brave. Write what you love. 

Here’s another case for timing: Shortly after I bought the necklace, I journeyed to a delicious hibachi restaurant with my fam. Perhaps you are wondering: what’s sushi got to do with this? Be silenced, ye doubters! In this case: everything. The locket and the hibachi-trip just happened to coincide with a long and tedious emotional roller coaster ride of events. 

Namely, I had just shelved a writing project that was headed nowhere. It happens. And I was down about lots of other, not book-related, but very heart-heavy things. The sadness was apparent in my demeanor. Because, typically, my reaction at hibachi restaurants might lead one to surmise that I never actually leave my house. You remember how Sloth started happy-bouncing in his chair when Chunk offered him a Baby Ruth? That’s how I am at Hibachi restaurants. 

He flipped the egg into his hat?! 
He made an ONION VOLCANO?!  
*claps* *guffaws* *bounce bounce bounce*

And yet, even The Hibachi Show wasn’t upping my mood. I was feeling pretty sunk. 

I don’t believe in luck

But I’m not gonna lie - I’ve had some strangely fortuitous fortune cookies in my day. I often joke about the fortunes at that specific restaurant because - I kid you not - they always come true in some hilarious manner. 

On that day, I cracked open a fortune that read: 

Don’t give up. All that you hope for will happen. 

And it made my heart sing. 

I folded my fortune into a teeny-tiny accordian. And I stuffed it into the book-shaped locket. I have reread the fortune many times over the past few years. Sometimes I don’t even need to read it; I just press the locket between my thumb and finger and remember what’s hidden there: a sweet little reminder, a pinch of inspiration, a wish. Hope that’s unseen. 

Faith as small as a mustard seed. 

I don’t believe in luck. 

But I believe in words and affirmation. I believe. 

Fact: whenever I choose to shut up and just believe, it is always one of the best decisions I ever make. 

A few days ago, I wore the necklace. I also wore a black-knit dress and grey tights and cowboy boots. I pulled on a white a cardigan, because it’s still gloriously cool here. The locket was a fine punctuation mark on my funky little outfit. 

I ended up at the mall, where I tried on a few dresses. Browsed the new books at Barnes & Noble. Got coffee. Drove home. 

And when I got home ... I realized the necklace was no longer around my neck. 

I zoomed back to the store and scoured the dressing rooms. No necklace. I checked with lost and found. No necklace. I meandered through the parking lot like a rockabilly magpie, scouring the pavement for the familiar sparkle of my locket. Nada. After a final call to the store today I accepted the truth: 

The Era of the Locket has come to an end. 

Which is fine. It was cheap. It wasn’t an heirloom. It was only a necklace. I’m not sad about it at all, just kicking myself for not realizing when it slipped off.

But I’ve been thinking about my fortune necklace today. 

Not everything that I hoped for has happened yet. 

... but so many wonderful things have happened. 

And great things will happen, I believe. The necklace wasn’t some tailsman that ushered good into my life, and neither was my paper fortune (which, if I remember correctly, had the Chinese pronunciation for “beer” on the reverse side). It was only ever a reminder, a sweet cosmic wink. The locket was only a brave declaration in a desloate season: good days are coming. 

Maybe I declared it so much, that I started believing it. 

I don’t believe in luck. 

But I believe in serendipity. 

So this is what I hope: 

I hope the necklace slipped off on purpose, the way magical lockets are wont to do. When I  tugged the discounted, super-cute black eyelet dress off over my head, I hope the locket came off with it. Maybe the necklace landed quietly in the corner of the dressing room. I hope my boots matched the perfect rhythem of the tick-tick-ticking time piece as I walked away. 

I hope another dreamer walked in the dressing room after me. 

She was just there to find a last minute dress for something: a dinner, a school function, a work shindig, whatever. She checks her reflection; the dress is fine. But she’s surprised by the look on her face: the sad in her stare, the dark circles under her eyes, the way worry pulls her smile so flat and tight these days. 

She wonders: Why do I even keep trying? 

Why can’t I just give up? 

Why is it taking so long? 

She sighs as she arches around to undo her side zipper ... And then ... 

She catches a strange flicker in the corner of the room. A necklace. Knda cheap looking. Kinda tacky. Kinda cool. She picks it up. She opens the locket. She unfolds a tiny accordian of words. It’s the smallest victory banner she’s ever held. 

But small victories amount to a whole lot of wonderful. 

Don’t give up. All that you hope for will happen. 

It’s meant to be hers. She doesn’t believe in luck. Not exactly. And that’s fine; luck isn’t what she needs. She just needs permission to hope. 

I hope she wears the necklace home. I hope she wears it when she’s dancing. When she writes. When she wanders. When she holds her friend's first baby. When she runs through a firefly field. I hope she wears it with red lipstick and tight jeans to a concert. I hope she clutches it absentmindedly when she prays and feels the tiny clock-pulse of hope-hope-hope in the palm of her hand. And when she leans in to a kiss that makes her heart race ...  

tick-tock, tick-tock
is it her heart or the clock? 
Time’s up. Time’s wasting. 
Time’s yours; so take it. 

How is it possible to feel so blazingly, amazingly alive sometimes? 

I hope she wears the necklace out, and wears it well. I hope she fashions it into a sparkly little slingshot, and aims for the stars. 


  1. This was so beautiful, Natalie! You're such an amazing storyteller. :) I hope that all you hope for will happen!


  2. Dear Lord, Natalie, you gave me a tear! I big fat one. And a stuffy nose, too.

    I know that whoever found the locket was meant to find it.




  3. I love this!
    On New Years day, as per tradition, I went out for Chinese Food with my family. I got a fortune, and I've kept it taped to my wall - right above my desk - ever since. It says "You will soon witness a miracle."
    When I got the fortune, I was a little lost, a little confused and a lot desperate. I don't know if I've moved on from that point a whole lot, but every time I look at that little fortune tacked up on my wall, it makes me want to keep believing that I will get my miracle, someday soon.

  4. I don't believe in luck either and I know I live too far away to find that locket and press it into my palm and hope for things that I'm pretty sure are impossible. But I'm taking your words - this post - and pressing them into my mind and heart.

    I love this post so much. Thank you.

    P.S. I bet that locket finds someone special.

  5. You have such a way with words. I loved reading the story of your locket. I'm sure it found a new home with someone who will treasure it just as much as you did.

  6. Awesome. I like the way you think, Natalie. :)

  7. Seriously, making me bawl on a Monday morning?! A wonderful story, beautifully told, my friend!

  8. I just have to say....

    I absolutely love this!! You made me smile Natalie! I am so in awe of your amazingly fantastic writing abilities(and maybe a lot jealous too). I cannot wait to read A Snicker of Magic. I know it will make me smile even more!