I was speaking to my nephew on his birthday.
Suffice to say, that he is very young and very keen on exploring the world around him. He is lucky to have lived in both sides of the planet during his upbringing. He is lucky to have been born in the right side of a border and he qualifies to passports and to bring a citizen of the world, and not an immigrant. He is too young for politics, but he knows what he likes.
He has a keen eye for verticality, and has recently acquired a keen interest in stones.
He was showing me his stone collection, and told me excitedly that he had six or so. Six! It may have been seven, but that’s beyond the point.
I told him that I only have one stone with me (I have others at home, obviously!), and I showed him. It is a flat stone, slightly oblong, about the surface of a thumb. It is dark cream in colour but it seems to have lacquer that I like to scratch off occasionally, revealing the clearer colouring within.
He was surprised to hear that I was carrying a stone, and understandably asked me why was I carrying it.
I told him that my beloved had given it to me.
I told him that every time I felt my left pocket I also felt the stone.
Every time I felt the stone I felt my beloved, and it reminded me of him.
When I was in need of courage, I would squeeze the stone as if to get some good luck to ooze out. When I’m bored I can play with the stone and make it spin on a flat surface, like a compass. Regardless of which way it points when it stops, my beloved is there.
It is not a burden, but one must consider it all the time. When driving with certain trousers, it may come off the pocket. When changing trousers the stone must come with me. Sometimes it inconveniently falls off when hanging the trousers and I end up on my knees trying to find it.
I do not mind.
I am reminded of my beloved. I could throw it into a pond, and that would become our pond.
I nearly threw it into the ocean a couple of years ago, but I resisted the urge. The excuse was to then go with my beloved and find a new stone together. From the earth, and not purchased from a store.
The stone has a biblical quote – Jebediah – and I have read it several times, and talks about God’s plans for you. It is not my favourite bible passage, but it is on my favourite stone.
I also got my beloved a stone. I think it lies in our pond, thrown away in a moment of despair and darkness, trying to make a last effort and failing to do so. Splashing away, the ripples disappearing into memories within seconds. But it is our pond now, and nothing can change that. The stone was slightly rounder than mine, black in colour on the outside but with a core of a brighter hue of grey. Most importantly, it was chipped in a particular way, revealing the inner core and what was lacking. Another part of the same stone, having been filed away from the circumstances at some point in the stone’s life. Now aware of the exposure of the core.
It is now living underwater, forever, or until the pond is drained and the stone becomes one between many others.
I love my stone. It has made me a stone collector. I like to collect stones when I’m out and about, especially beaches. I walk at speed, looking at the ground and scanning for a piece of earth that has an element that I find attractive, or that draws me in somehow.
I do not blame my beloved for throwing his stone away – it was not a good time back then – but I am happy that whilst he may have lost the several replacements I have given him since, at least he has me.
I was introduced to this “thing” by a very dear friend who has done this same thing with his partner for a significant amount of years. He taught me that a life lived in lie and deception is not worth living. He taught me that it was better to muster the courage to be honest than to cower in fear, burdened by the constant keeping track of the lies that have been spun and the consequences of the inevitable discovery. To him I owe much. As like myself, he still has the original, whilst his partner may have had a few renewed stones.
This is why I carry a stone with me, every waking moment. It is not a burden. It is the drive.
It reminds me of my beloved, I said.
OK, my nephew replied. He then went away to play with the adopted cat.