Monday, 2 November 2009

Jingle Belle

Late afternoon as the sun wearily sinks towards the horizon and the twilight breeze gambols in, was once upon a time the most beautiful time of day for me. When I moved in with Bingley this magic hour of the day would most often be spent lying in bed, not saying much, but being together. We'd be tired, in that way that people who have unlimited time and not much to do with it get tired, and we'd just lie back, enjoying being with each other. I bought a string of bells once, from one of those new age shops, and hung it from our curtain rail above our bed. Then the late afternoon breeze would sway them lazily, the tiniest jingle overhead.

I used to wear bells then too, a heavy Indian anklet of silver bells that accompanied me every where. Every light footstep surrounding me with music. It changed the way I walked, I learned that dancing steps gave the most beautiful noise and would trip lightly in my thrifted 1970s paisley skirts that floated around my legs to my ankles. I loved the chill of the metal against my ankle until it warmed to my skin. Didn't mind the fact that occasionally they pinched, because the peal of bells kept something within me light.

I'm not sure why I stopped wearing them. I think I started wearing shoes more, and they were incompatible, but I think I thought I had outgrown them at some point. There was also the fact that with the pill, and then pregnancy and breastfeeding, I put on a lot of weight and didn't recognise who I was any more. I stopped dancing in any case, stopped wearing the bright thrifted clothes and wore a whole lot of unflattering and dowdy clothes instead.

When the Monkey was born she was given a gift of a heavy silver anklet in the thai style, with two bells. It was left in its pretty box for several months, and mostly forgotten about until she was about 10 months old and starting to walk. We were visiting the relatives who had given it to her and decided to let her wear it to show them. And she loved it. She would not let us take it off and my memories of her first steps are set to the music of those two silver bells. When she started daycare I would come for her in the afternoons and would know where in the playground she was instantly by the music.

She loved her jingles and never took them off. She would dash away in a shopping centre and we would follow the bells. When her auburn ringlets grew in she attracted a lot of attention, the combination with her cheeky dark eyed face and her bells making her a magnet for comments. Then, just as effusively as she had fallen in love with them, she decided she didn't want to wear them any more. Her little brother had arrived, and suddenly my musical baby was no more, she outright refused to wear them. They ended up in her daycare bag, forgotten, unjangled for months.

Then a few weeks ago, when I was cleaning out her bag, I found them. There was only one bell, the other having broken. The thick, engraved silver was still shiny though, and as I held it up, the bell tinkled softly in my palm. Flooded with memories of a baby Monkey I tried it to see if it would fit my (thankfully tiny) wrists, and it did. Jingling with every gesture of my arm. And it's still there, a heavy silver reminder of giggling, toddling babies. Reminding me that the Possum will not always wake every two hours and need feeding. That one day he too will walk and then run and then dance.

I've been so lost in the daily haze, so focused on getting through the days. Of plodding through every angry threenager outburst and sleepless nights. Of remembering the bloody school reader every morning that I've forgotten that once upon a time I used to lie in the breeze and listen to bells. But this afternoon, warm and cossetted in my hammock, listening to the bells on my wrist and the reinstated bells on my ankle, I remember.


alliecat said...

A truly beautiful post.

I have a few strings of bells in our home, most notably hanging in the windows of my girls rooms, tinkling in the breeze as you described. I love them. What lovely memories your bells evoke for you.

Simone said...

What an absolutely beautiful memory Jenn

Melissa said...

A beautiful post, Jenn. I always find it amazing the way that music or sounds evoke such strong emotions and work their way into our brains, extracting memories for us.

Averil said...

You know, I can imagine the Elfling dancing through the air with bells on, but never really pictured the Monkey that way.

How BEAUTIFUL to know of her like this. xxxxxx

Melissa said...

OMG Ave! I was having the same thought. I found myself surprised when she said the Monkey was wearing it.

I've always thought of Elfling as more ethereal, a tiny little gypsy girl, dancing through life.

And Monkey as more animated. A sparkle to her eyes, mischeivious grins as she bounces her way into everyone's heart.

Maybe it's just the monikers.


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