During the latest trip to where I grew up nostalgia was charming me with the comfort of familiarity. It seemed so safe and pleasant to be back, the idea of life there seemed to make sense, easy. I let myself be teased with the idea of moving there again, be with my family and the lakes that could redeem anyone’s spirits. It made it hard to leave. On the plane I asked myself various questions. In reality would I really enjoy my life there? Am I enjoying it completely here (in Chicago)? Is one place better than the other? This is the area I seek clarity.
It was so comforting to know exactly where everything was and that the buildings looked the same. Seeing people I have known for over a decade was enchanting, I romanticized every encounter. “Wow, he looks the same! And still works at the bank!” or “This Dairy Queen tastes the same as when I was little!” The same shit that use to bore me now seemed wildly delightful.
Now living in the country seems so romantic; tending a garden, swimming in the lake, or having a quiet morning immersed in nature. Could I let myself have that? My two current lifestyles are in such contrast but I appreciate what it brings out in me. The city is a constant source of inspiration, the country is a source of peace. Nostalgia for what once was played tricks on my mind. For days I longed for the comfort of what can never really be again. Do I really like all the stuff (and people) in my hometown or is it because it feels so good to know people and places that know me? Internally, I’m constantly evolving which makes the consistency of my small hometown seem so appealing and safe. Seems like the fast track to security and safety. I suddenly like knowing that not much really changes too drastically in that place, but also isn’t that what I use to resent?
I am rubbing out the belief that I use to hold about moving “back home” was a sign of defeat or giving up. Now I see how it can feed our souls and nourish what we once had but morph it to fit our current selves.
i wrote your name,
put it in a vial of water
and froze it
so i wouldn’t think
of you anymore
a wise woman
offered this advice
told me to keep you
in the freezer forever
(if i wanted)
it froze my feelings
stopped time in ice
disabling your energetic pull
she was right
maybe i’ll keep your name in
on this note, like meat,
until it’s pure freezer burn
Collecting little sacred treasures has been something I’ve loved since I was a kid. My grandma gave me a wooden chest with a lighthouse painted on it that I kept my treasures in. Now it is filled with small rocks, jewelry, letters, and pictures.
My grandparents owned a rock shop and I remember sorting out the polishing pellets from big 5 gallon buckets of Tiger Eye gems for hours in their basement. I imagine this is when my love of stones began. My grandpa was always collecting things, especially Native American art and jewelry.
Being in the metalsmith studio makes me feel more connected to my grandparents. I never really had a strong connection to my grandpa when I was young and felt like I hardly knew him. Since I was so young I never really knew what his interests were. Now that I am older I keep finding clues that show me how similar our interests have turned out to be.
My mom gave me a stack of his writing that I spread all over my childhood bed so I could absorb each word he wrote. I’ve been writing poetry since 5th grade. She also gave me a bag full of old jewelry he had collected. Now I make jewelry with similar stones he use to sell. He had a ton of maps and books so he could find mining areas for gems. I majored in Geography.
I feel more in tune with him after he has passed then I did when he was alive. Part of me wishes he was still here so we could bond over geography, writing poetry, jewelry, and special stones.
I make treasures. I make jewelry for people to wear that represents something special to them. I work with my hands. I put my energy into the metal as I work it and get in flow with how the stone wants to be shown.
About the author...
Maura McDanel is a Jill-of-all-trades: metal smith, poet, improvisor, story collector, co-founder of www.haynonnie.com. Hay Nonnie is her passion project that she started with one of her best friends in June 2016. It's a collection of true personal essays and host of funass monthly live shows. Current theme: Modern Witches.
Find her performing at iO with Duchess, CIC with Proud Parents, or on Insta @themaurathemerrier
Based in Chicago, IL