I get what Robert Frost meant when he wrote “Nothing Gold Can Stay” but in my ripe 25 years, I have found that the only things to have stayed are quite literally, possessions that are made from gold.
Take, for example, the gold coin, attached by a chain that I wear around my neck. I once complimented my grandmother on it and she took it off right there to give to me. Enterprising 17 year old that I was, I followed the compliment with one on her shoes and two on the earrings hanging from her lobes but these compliments were to no avail.
Now every time she sees me wearing the necklace, she reminds me that it is older than our ages combined. A gift from her grandmother and originally from Byzantine Turkey, the coin represents a highly personal history that is now being preserved through a physical totem.
It is when I consider the larger history of the element, dating back as far as 2500 BC in ancient Mesopotamia, traveling through India and Greece and Russia, and even into American popular culture by way of the hip hop artists who galvanized gold chains worn around their necks (Run DMC) or as enormous clocks (I still think about you daily, Flava Flav) and subsequently, too, as grills (marriage proposal still on the table, Kanye), that I realize how prevalent the material continues to be and have to ask, again: what in the good name of precious metal are you talking about, Frost?
Me, personally, I can’t wait to start passing down the gilded talismans I have started to gather — it makes collecting them sweeter.
There’s the gold Kale necklace I got on Tuesday, incidentally also the day that I found out the rash on my stomach is poison ivy. I can now see myself pulling it off my neck at 55 to give to my daughter as motivation to contract her own Toxicodendron radicans. (I will also tell her Wikipedia taught me that phrase.)
I will give that yellow gold horoscope necklace to someone who has lost faith in the Sagittarian race, just as a reminder that we are a very generous people. I might give that spider ring, set on rose gold and accompanied by a monkey that resides on my pinky to someone who enjoys breaking apart, then reconfiguring, compound words as much as I do.
To be clear, I understand that in the context of Frost’s poem, gold is a simile for the ephemeral nature of, uh, nature. But isn’t there something to be said about golden memories, where they are deposited and how far and long they live on? I like to think of the mind as a safety box. One that comes with a golden lock and if you’re very lucky, a chain to wear it.
Or whatever. Now, it’s you time. Please share photos of the heirlooms you’ve either acquired or plan to dole out and the memories you’ll tether to them.