I found these red bracelets in a small shop along the Ganges river in Rishikesh when I was in India in 2007. Though I didn't quite know it at the time, my marriage was crumbling and I was tailspinning into a depression that wouldn't release me for almost 3 years.
Red, in many Asian cultures, is symbolic of joy and is often used for wedding attire. Bangles similar to these are traditionally worn by Indian married women in place of a wedding ring. When I slipped the red glass rounds over my hand and up my arm that day, I vowed to myself that I would wear them until I found my joy again. I have worn them continuously since then, taking them off only for massage treatments, and leaving them off only for the last few weeks of my pregnancy, when I couldn't get them back on over my swollen hands after a treatment. Though I had walked through the end of the marriage, out of the depression, and into a new and happier life, they had become part of me. My close friends know me for the sound of them jingling on my arm, and the weight of them is familiar and comforting.
On my kitchen windowsill right now are three wishbones from the carcasses of recently-consumed chickens. Washing dishes yesterday, I was looking at them and thinking about what I would wish for with one of those bones. I couldn't come up with anything.
This week, for the first time in 4 years, I thought about taking off the bracelets. For the first time they felt in my way, a hinderance. They press against my baby girl's shoulder when I hold her to nurse on the left side, and I don't want them to hurt her. I'm afraid they will pinch her skin or pull her hair.
I haven't taken them off yet, and haven't yet decided if I am really done with them, but this week I have realized that at this moment in my life all of my wishes have come true. I have found my joy and I walk in it every day.