This I Believe

Li Wang - 96821, Hawaii
Entered on September 14, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
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In my life, there are two bracelets interweaving my childhood and adulthood. They make me believe in the continuity of life, the opportunities it offers to fulfill, making a coherent and holistic experience developing from one’s initial curiosity, expectation, affection, and pursuit.

Thirty years ago, I lived with my amiable grandparents. They preferred a simple life. The only conspicuous piece of furniture was an old dark red cabinet. For some reason, I loved to sneak there, climbing up an old –style chair to open the cabinet. With the soft squeak of sound, there appeared various interesting things.The most appealing was a pair of undecorated traditional Chinese silvery bracelets in a piece of cloth. Many a time, I unwrapped the cloth, gazing at them and letting my finger trace the smooth loops. I imagined how they looked on my grandma, although I had never seen grandma wear any jewelry. I suspected the carefully persevered bracelets must be something precious to her. Later on, I could not help asking my grandma about them. She smiled and told me those were her dowry. I pestered her to put them on, but she simply smiled and kept doing sewing….

After she died, I have never rummaged for those particular bracelets again. Her life seemed to be wrapped in that cloth and too heavy for me to open. But I feel them, they still linger in my mind even after I left my home town, then left China and came to remote Hawaii. My recollection about China is somehow reduced to the bracelets – my blood relation, my roots and my first curiosity about life. Therefore, it was really striking when I saw a little girl weaving a grass bracelet in my last Chinese language class this summer. She came up and wound the half-done bracelet around my wrist. “Not long enough.” She murmured, sat down and kept working on it. Shortly afterwards she came up and tried the bracelet again. “Almost.” She worked a few more minutes. This time it fit just perfectly. She smiled contentedly and worked to clasp the two ends. I took time to scrutinize the bracelet. It was twined by a certain grass with elaborate twists, and a small pink glass bead was at one end. Other kids shouted,“ Ms Wang, it is for friendship”. She nodded and knowingly smiled. My finger spontaneously slid along the loop. The natural grass smell stimulated by the gentle touch on those protruding twists made my memory flash back to when I was the little girl’s age and the touch of the silvery bracelets. I saw again the smile unfolding on my grandma’s face….

I continue to reminisce about bracelets and such memories that braid together my affection towards my grandma, my curiosity and my endeavors to understand the small mysteries that intrigue me. I believe life is not a random collage, the future is the continuation of the past. The flow makes life meaningful and miraculous. I myself am the gardener of my life experience, which makes me carefully plant the seeds in each of the phases of my life, nurse them, cultivate them and wait for them to bear fruit.

I put away the grass bracelet in a special case. When I shut it I feel as if I shut that old cabinet. Then the remote yesterday and today, the remote hometown and this island are twisted together just like the twisted grass bracelet. I do not know what will follow this experience, but I believe somewhere another bracelet waits for me.