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“Would you like me to clasp it for you?”
The lady at Tiffany’s had asked me gently after witnessing me struggle for an embarrassingly long time to untangle the necklace from my curls. James would have been so disappointed, I thought to myself.
Never any trace of lint on his freshly ironed black suits, James was perhaps the single most dashing man I had ever met in that city of over eight million people. Always sipping his aromatic peppermint tea from an elegant teacup, walking in his polished shoes with a palpable spring in his step, and never offering a greeting without wholeheartedly meaning it; James was undoubtedly one of my favorite people to visit in between classes in Manhattan.
He worked at the jewelry shop that I’d go to in between my afternoon English classes, and although I was more often swooning over the new silver pieces than I was poring over the books I probably should have opened, I don’t think James ever fully remembered my name. He must have remembered my face, though, (or so I’d hoped) because every time I’d go in, he’d bring out tea and macarons as we’d chat about who I wanted to be when I grow up and the newest designs in the showcases.
James showed me one of the most beautiful acts of kindness I have ever known—he taught me that there is power in independence. I had gone in to have a polishing done for my bracelet, and one of the ladies had remarked that I better have someone around to clasp it for me for the rest of my life. “Not at all,” James had said. “Clasp what’s yours,” he had whispered as he ushered me to the mirror to show me how to do my own bracelets up.
“When I’m gone, think of the man who taught you that you don’t need anyone else.” Those were the last words he had said to me as I’d walked out of the shop for the last time before moving out of New York.
There is such love in teaching. There is such compassion in your mom teaching you how to tie your shoes for the first time. There is such tenderness in your dad gently letting go of the back wheels of the bike to watch you learn to pedal on your own. There is such beauty in your teachers showing you how to read and write and study. Sure, there are things that we learn on our own and there is magic in self-learning, but the things that we learn from others are partly what make us kaleidoscopes of the people we love, have loved, and will love.
I don’t know if James remembers the girl that would run late to class just to sneak a peek at the new spring necklace collections, but I think of him often when I wear my jewelry every morning.
So, I answered “Thanks, but I’ve got it!” to the lady at Tiffany’s, and I could almost feel James smiling across the ocean over his cup of peppermint tea.
If you’d like to share one of your tiny moments that revealed a big idea about love, feel free to contribute to the “Nothing like the Sun” column by emailing email@example.com .
Edited by Noor Hatimy, Sex and Relationships Editor