It has been ten years now since we first met. Feels like last week. I still feel the excitement. Fellow travellers. Young and carefree. We’d teamed up on the road, hitch-hiking down from California. It had sure been easier obtaining lifts with Fiona than on my own. She had thumbs like a magnet – or was that those legs and that beautiful face? Whatever. All I know is that cars screeched to a halt when Fiona was there.
We were crazy. On the spur of the moment deciding to hitch a thousand miles to Mexico City. Why not? It took us a week but we made it. We had fun walking through the old quarters, hanging out in the bars, pretending we were Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac or Henry Miller. We drank too much red Mexican wine washed down with tequila and laughed a lot. We were always laughing.
On a whim we decided to escape the smog and caught a local bus, heading off into the mountains. We had to hang on as it careered up through narrow tracks, packed in like cattle, country folk in long dresses and lined faces, with chickens in little cages, with baskets of goods, talking in Spanish and gesticulating towards the crazy gringos. They shared their lunches with us. Tacos, enchiladas, chicken and bread, washed down with local beer. We laughed a lot. Hanging on. Gabbing, not understanding a word but communicating with hands, eyes and smiles. Best meal I’ve ever had.
Off the bus in the little mining town of Taxsco we were waving and calling out like we were leaving life-long friends.
In Taxsco I had the bracelet and matching earrings made. Distinctive, original, made of silver with beautiful ceramic inlays. Fiona chose the design, intricate and delicate – and the ceramics – blue, white and green swirls. We watched in amazement as the artisan created it.
I remember her face as the old Mexican artist fastened the chain around her neck and she slipped the earrings on, admiring herself in the mirror. Fiona loved them and swore she would never take them off. I told her that the blue matched her eyes. The silver sparkled in the sunlight and the reds, greens and blues of the ceramics sparkled. Matching our mood, reflecting love and happiness.
True to her word, over the course of fifteen years those items of jewellery never seemed to have left her. They were the first things she put on when she got up and the last things she took off at night. As familiar to me as the curve of her cheek, the dimple in her jaw or the sparkles of her lovely eyes. Every tiny swirl and delicate silver filigree was ingrained in my memory. Those earrings and that bracelet spoke of those happy days, young love and the days of freedom, when everything had been so easy.
I stood and stared. There was no doubt. But what were they doing on Graham’s bedside table?