Tita Grace’s bracelets

Lately, I’ve become unsentimental about the articles of clothing in my closet. If I haven’t worn it in a year, I like to think that I don’t really need it taking up space and gathering dust. I didn’t used to be this way, but my exploding closet has forced me to re-evaluate my hoarder tendencies, especially when other people can clearly benefit from the clothes I’m not really using.

This also went for my accessory stash. I have a rule where I can only have one container each for my rings, bracelets and necklaces. If I run out of space in any of them, I have to take something out and give it away. I try to be ruthless when pruning my collection, but there are a couple of things that my sentimentality will not allow me to part with.

The first is my very beat up American Eagle chain bracelet that I pair with my plain baggy top from a dear high school buddy. The second would be Tita Grace’s gifts, which mostly consist of bracelets made out of a variety of materials from stainless steel to pink crystals.

You see, the context behind our relationship is that Tita Grace lives in Hong Kong. We don’t have the luxury of just bumping into each other by coincidence. We literally only see her during special occasions such as holidays and trips abroad, time especially set aside for the occasion.

Tita Grace has been our tour guide and chaperon in Hong Kong, a fellow traveler in Japan and even my roommate one time. We may not spend a lot of time together, but we’ve shared plenty of funny misadventures.

One time, we were about to leave Greenbelt but couldn’t contact our driver. In a panic, we approached every security guard in sight, alerted customer service, called my mom, only to find out that the driver was stuck in traffic and not answering the phone.

Another time in Fukuoka, we had a long game of charades with the store clerk just to find my misplaced umbrella.

Somehow, this never happens to me with anyone else. It’s an exclusively me-and-Tita-Grace thing.

This translates to a mixture of joy, at the same time happy trepidation, expecting another misadventure when I see her. Whatever happens, however, I like to think we will surely have a memorable time together.

Tita Grace’s gifts aren’t always trendy and they are things that I may not necessarily get for myself. However, it really doesn’t matter because I know that these are chosen with thought and care, painstakingly brought over and lovingly presented. These are special enough that I would go out of my way to wear them.

When my arms feel bare, I always make it a point to wear a Tita Grace bracelet that doubles as a reminder of overwhelmingly fond memories.

One of her most memorable pieces is this silver bracelet with roses on the circumference. I remember that I got it with a star necklace as a sort of birthday present. The occasion it marked was a July visit of Tita Grace together with Mei and Bari (her kids).

One of the main objectives of the trip, aside from visiting their family here of course, was to get Mei a trendy transformation.

Armed with my new bracelet on our shopping day, we kicked off with Mei getting a haircut while I got my brows done. We then indulged a bit on the mid-year sales followed by some lunch.

It must’ve been particularly special because I saved up my own money for the expenses of that day. I can still recall that day in full detail even if it has been three years past. All by looking at one bracelet.

When I wear a Tita Grace bracelet, I am dressed in more than just the physical sense. It is a talisman of care and good memories. These bracelets are things worthy of being kept and passed down. I feel lucky to have quite a few, but I feel most lucky to have a Tita Grace. — First published in Tulay Fortnightly, Chinese-Filipino Digest 29, no. 9 (October 4-17, 2016): 14.

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