Alison Wonderland Jewelry · In the Studio · On History

On Life’s Transitions and Drooling and a New Jewelry Collection!

New Beginnings Collection

The first time I realized I was not quite prepared for new beginnings as an adult was when I noticed I was drooling on my lawyer’s polished oak conference table.

It was at the closing for the first home I’d ever bought, which was a new townhouse in Delaware. It wasn’t an expensive house as these things go, but when the real estate lawyer went over how much the mortgage was in total, with the interest and all the closing costs, this seemed to me to be an impossibly huge number — certainly the most money I’d ever committed to spend.

As he was talking, I hadn’t noticed that my jaw had gone slack. I’d forgotten to shut my mouth — I’d frozen with my pen halfway to my mouth to gnaw on it  — and I drooled a tiny puddle on the table. I wiped it with the sleeve of the olive green silk cardigan I was wearing, scrunched the sleeve a little to cover the dark spot. I don’t think anyone noticed.

I was in my mid-twenties at that point, and oh my God, life had yet to kick me around as much as it was going to. But I remember that moment as the one where it started to dawn on me that freed of the constraints and comforts of an academic calendar, adult life creates its own rhythms and seasons. Key Plate Necklace

You make a decision, or one is made for you, and suddenly you’re living in a new era. You start or end a significant relationship, you change jobs, you move house, and it’s hard to conceive of exactly how much your life will be shaped by these new intimate surroundings — even when the change is much desired and intentional. You want to live in a place with more light, in a better neighborhood, with less annoying neighbors — but that isn’t the only thing that changes, also the patterns of your life, of your sleep, of how you spend your money, what you’re interested in and what you’re not, and eventually who you are.

Change is relentless, even absent these big moves, even if you somehow lived in the same house, at the same job, with the same person, and in perfect health, for decades. There would be smaller moments and quieter, unnamed epochs. Heraclitus, who knew a thing or two said you cannot step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing onto you. We have unquiet bones. But moments of transition definitively alter the course of that river, and it’s often easier to see the shape of that shift in retrospect.

This is what I wanted to remember in making my New Beginnings jewelry collection.  Not the twenty-something who was drooling on her lawyer’s table, exactly, but recognition and compassion for a person who is suddenly aware that her life is changing, and yes — that it is a jaw dropping moment.

These transitions are so well marked in our younger years — academically, religiously — with gatherings of friends and family and appetizers and people telling you what it was like for them, and some discussion of what the tests will be and how to prepare for them. Then we’re left to live the rest of our life being surprised that pretty much all the significant quizzes are pop, and there aren’t any more parties or speakers who tell us that commencement is both and end and a beginning. And this is exciting, but it’s also scary and worthy of recognition.

I’m beginning to post all the pieces of this collection now.  They’re all unique or one-of-a-kind pieces, about twenty in total. (I’ve got three pictured here, with some of the weirder ones still to come.) Check out my progress here.
Alison's Writing Portfolio · On Herself · On History · On Places & Travel

Volcano! Thoughts on Visiting Mt. St. Helens

At Perceptive Travel, I’ve written about my longstanding fascination with volcanoes. I recently visited Mt. St. Helens with a couple of friends, and it is very possible that I chanted VOL-CANE-OH! more than a few times in the car ride from Portland. (I have very patient friends.) My favorite part of the trip is when… Continue reading Volcano! Thoughts on Visiting Mt. St. Helens

Alison's Writing Portfolio · On History · On Places & Travel

A new New York, Just Up the Hudson – BBC Travel

  You have to take the idea of a “new” New York kind of loosely in this piece for The BBC — the rough triangle I’m recommending, bound by Beacon, Hyde Park, and New Paltz is actually nothing like the city, but has several desirable aspects of urban life: culture, history, cuisine and art. Previously,… Continue reading A new New York, Just Up the Hudson – BBC Travel

Alison's Writing Portfolio · On History

Chekhov is Homesick – Perceptive Travel/USA Today

Midway through Anton Chekhov’s first trip to Western Europe, after he’d been blown away by Venice, pictured above, he started to get a case of homesickness. I immediately recognized this as “that mid-trip feeling”. “I’ve seen everything and dragged myself everywhere I was ordered,” Chekhov wrote in a letter home.  “When I was offered something… Continue reading Chekhov is Homesick – Perceptive Travel/USA Today

Alison's Writing Portfolio · On Culture & Trends · On Design & Art · On Food & Drink · On History · On Places & Travel · On Politics

The Politics of High Heels, a Romance with a Hat, and other Toronto Stories

There’s still time for you to enter to win an all-expense paid to trip to Toronto.  Perhaps you’ll want to pack a shoe trunk, like this one that’s on display at the Bata Shoe Museum? Or perhaps you’ll pack more sensibly. Either way, start planning by reading a selection of my recent Toronto stories: The… Continue reading The Politics of High Heels, a Romance with a Hat, and other Toronto Stories