The adventures of turquoise into jewelry


A Love Story

A tale told by turquoise

 “I’m just an old chunk of coal, but I’m gonna be a diamond someday.” Even though listening to country music is one advantage of hanging out in a bar in Arizona, that song really gets on my nerves. The Canadian coins jammed around me in this chipped coffee mug accuse me of bias, but it’s not true. I may be a lump of turquoise, but I have absolutely nothing against coal; it’s the assumption that diamonds are somehow the superior gem that bugs me.

All this talk of purity. Please. We all know that character is lodged in our irregularities. Transparency? Not where I come from. Nothing wrong with keeping a few secrets. I was born in fire and know a thing or two about heat and passion. I play well with others and let the best of those I hang out with rub off on me. I’m particularly proud of that vein of azurite tracing my surface contours. But try telling that to a Canadian quarter that some cheapskate cowboy left on the bar pretending it was a real tip. Not that I’m prejudiced against foreign coins. We’re all imprisoned in this thing together. They’re used to being passed from hand to hand. I want nothing more than another glimpse of an Arizona sunset.

Thousands of years spent tangling with all the elements of the earth has forged me into an outdoor kind of guy. I always dreamed of helping some saucy cowgirl hold the reins as she galloped out across the dessert. I envisioned myself encircled and held by silver. By that I mean in a ring designed by a jeweler who knows a thing or two about life and love, not surrounded by bunch of coins with highly questionable silver content in some worn-out coffee mug.

The day that old rustler broke me loose from an abandoned mine, I thought I was on my way. I knew he’d head right for a pawn shop. And, in no time at all, someone would recognize something special in my shade of blue. Not azure. Not green. Not even turquoise. Something special. Something all my own. Something hard to put a name to. Did you know that turquoise can subtly alter its shade to reflect the mood and health of its wearer? Sweet, right? Union. The blending of two to make one. None of this you versus me stuff. It’s all about We. Us. Loyalty. Devotion. We’re in this thing called life together. For the long haul.

So what came between me and my fantasy cowgirl riding together out across the dessert? A bar room. That old rustler had to pass by this joint on his way to the pawnshop, and he thought he’d just have a beer or two to ease him on his way. Long story short. Too many drinks and too little money later, he settled up his tab by tossing me into the mix. So, here I am, stuck on the back of the bar with a bunch of coins not even the bank is willing to exchange.

Not that I’m feeling sorry for myself. I’ve heard enough broken-hearted stories poured out to  Ben the bartender as he pours out yet another beer to know that things could be a lot worse. Still, here I am, an extra-special bit of turquoise, a gem prized in every culture as a symbol of wisdom, my voice muffled by the weight of Canadian nickels, dimes, and quarters with the odd “loonie” and “toonie” thrown in for good measure.

You need a friend? No? Well, I’d say that someone who dumps his troubles on a bartender might just fall into that category. I can help, but first I’ve got to figure a way to get out of this chipped coffee mug. Did you know that he or she who owns a turquoise always finds love and happiness? I protect against all evil. Don’t get me started. I’ve got a lot to offer. I’ve got a lot to say. What I need is somebody special to help me amplify my voice.

And the answer to my prayers may have just walked through those swinging doors! The little blond with the silver feather earrings has the right amount of swagger and – be still my heart – she’s looking for a job, here in this old bar. Not forever, just for six weeks. I like an  honest woman. She didn’t mislead anyone about her intentions. She needs to work just long enough to pay off her vet bills because it seems there is a horse. A horse! Those desert sunsets just moved into the realm of the possible.

Time to polish up my lines. Like her, I don’t need to lie, just need to decide which of my many winning traits might be the one that arouses her curiosity about the contents of my ceramic prison. I possess the power to protect riders from injuries due to falls. True, all true, but this little number in the flannel shirt doesn’t look like the kind who’s ever been thrown by anybody or anything. How about inspiring fidelity from a lover? Forget that one. Anybody who would cheat on this chick isn’t worthy of her in the first place.
Turquoise unites the earth and sky, bringing together male and female energies.

I sometimes wonder if this young woman isn’t herself fashioned from turquoise. The regulars here all love her. Turquoise brings good fortune, and from the very beginning, her tips came close to setting a record.  She has a generous heart. She swept the first collection of change off the bar, into her hand, and turned and headed right for the cup that has trapped me and my Maple Leaf friends. My heart jumped with joy. Was my freedom going to be so easily won?
Nope, not so fast. Thanks a lot, Bartender Ben. He stepped between her and the fulfillment of my dreams, explaining that the mug was only for coins without value here in Arizona. But, Ben, it’s not only spare change in here. I’m in here too and my value has been esteemed in every culture in every century, right down through the ages. I have worth no matter where I am, but Ben stood between me and jailbreak on that night.

Had I not the turquoise gift of optimism, I might have lost hope. After all, the weeks were racing by and that vet bill was close to being paid in full. One has to have the faith of a gemstone skilled in creative problem-solving. It also helps to have faith in the Ancient Grandfather of all wisdom. Wholeness can come only when we’re willing to embrace all we are and all the experiences that have forged the rightness of our inner power.
And so, it came to pass. My dream girl’s last night in the bar proved to be mine as well. There was a farewell party going on in the corner booth. Not for my cowgirl soul-mate, but for one of the regulars who’d been offered a new job. With glasses raised, his buddies toasted his good fortune. “Here’s to happy trails in Alberta!”

“Alberta! Alberta!! That’s in Canada!!!” My fellow captives set up such a shout and a holler that it’s a wonder all the clinking and clattering didn’t send the old chipped mug crashing to the floor. Talk about loonies! They made such a racket that I couldn’t even hear what Ben was saying as he reached for the back of the bar. He motioned my sweetheart of the rodeo over to him. “Here, darlin’. Why don’t you give this to the guy who’s heading north. And so she did. When they dumped the contents of the mug out onto the table, I managed to roll over in her direction. There was a sudden silence. The fellow with the new job picked me up and slowly tumbled me in his hand. “Gee, I don’t know what good this would do me in the wilds of Canada.”  My cowgirl leaned in a bit closer to get a better look at the treasure in his hand. He smiled up at her. “Somethin’ like this would look mighty pretty in a ring. A bit of silver might make it a match for those feather earrings of yours.”
She paused just long enough, kind of shy, to give me pause. Don’t say no, please, please, please, don’t say no, I silently implored her. And then she smiled. “You mean it? Really?” He grinned in return and pressed me into her palm. “Yep, I do. Somehow the two of you belong together.”

Not even the volcanic thrust that formed me could match what my heart did in that moment. We did belong together. We do belong together. Except for the eight days it took to be fitted into a ring just her size, we’ve been together ever since. There we have it, an old-fashioned love story. We’ll be together from here on in. Forever. Mucking out stalls. Riding across the desert. Fancy parties. You name it. I’m there for her whenever she needs me. And as for those Canadian coins? They’re back to being passed from hand to hand. What can I say? Only that I’ll be eternally grateful for all they did to help me fulfill my destiny. And hers.

See more stories from my favorite writer Heather Remoff Here

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