Gold Hibiscus Charm

14 Karat Gold Hibiscus Charm
Purchased in Honolulu, Hawaii, 2004

I bought it on my honeymoon. I had just gotten married in Vegas and my (then) husband and I were on the first leg of our honeymoon in Honolulu (Maui was next) when we stumbled across the “International Market Place.” This space boasts of over 130 carts and stands. It’s mostly outdoor and there’s something about buying gold or having your palm read (you can do this too) out in the open, dodging trees to get to the next cart.

I bought the charm because it was small and reminded me how I should be. I was trying to be softer. The flower thumped against my chest when I ran every day or when I leaned in to eat oatmeal in the mornings.

My marriage ended two years later. It was mutual. It was friendly.

I visited Honolulu again six years later, in 2010. This time I was single. I seriously considered throwing the charm into the ocean from the balcony of my seventeenth floor hotel room. I didn’t though. I wasn’t ready to forget how I felt when I bought the charm and who I wanted so badly to be.

I revisited the International Market Place. I bought another charm– a Hawaiian fishhook. It’s bigger than the flower and sharper. Very quickly I learned it would catch on my shirts and sweaters. I bought it to remind me of who I really am. I slid the hook onto my necklace. It made small songs when it glided against the flower. I remember during the second trip asking the woman I bought the charm from why the flower charms looked so different from the one I bought six years earlier. She said the designs change every year. The hibiscus adapts.

As I place the flower into the envelope to send to you, it makes a song on its own. It doesn’t need the hook and it doesn’t need me. Most importantly, I no longer need it to remind me.

— Mailed from Kennesaw, GA

Exchange Story

I currently wear a sterling-silver circle on my chain. The charm is smaller than a penny and larger than a pea. It, like your gold hibiscus charm, thumps against my chest as I run, and dangles in mid air as I bow down to place a spoonful of oatmeal in my mouth. It was also purchased as a reminder of who I want to be, a more graceful and delicate person with an eye for detail. But mostly, it was purchased as a reminder of constancy during a period of turmoil. The circle is simple, steadfast and dependable, and will always compliment even the craziest of blouse patterns. It’s neutral and inert, and affords me a sense of calm.

Now, it was not necessarily the material or the brilliance of the hibiscus charm that caught my eye. What resonated with me was what the owner wrote about the design changing every year; how the hibiscus adapts. Circles don’t adapt. Their design never changes. Circles can only glimmer in one fluid motion, as light evenly kisses their leveled surface. The hibiscus charm looks like it glimmers in an unpredictable moment of happenstance; the curved petals affording it the opportunity for improvised play.

I’d like to have the charm as a reminder that who I want to be will continually change and adapt. I think I need it to remind myself that there is a delicacy, a softness and a sort of permanence in this, too.

— posted to Hudson, Quebec, Canada

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