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MAY
28

Stars and the Moon

My dear hometown jeweler, who recently passed way, has a son who spent several years of his life in the world of theater. A talented performer, during one summer that he spent home in Oregon, he staged a local production of the then-new show, Songs for a New World. I was working at his dad's store at the time, dreaming of how life would unfold and incredibly impressed by anyone who, like my jeweler's son, had left town to pursue a dream, a talent, and then come home to nurture our community with the spoils.

I attended the show multiple times, one song in particular resonating with me in a way I couldn't describe. It was nothing I'd experienced for myself, but the story spoke so strongly of the importance of following your heart, of choosing love, of not letting worldly things or wants become more important than anything else. The song, "Stars and the Moon," was originally performed by Audra McDonald, a fact I learned after tracking down the original recording. I didn't know who Audra was, but the song stayed with me for years, this thing I never wanted to forget as I made my way in the world.

For those keeping track at home, Audra McDonald has won a record six Tony Awards and is one of the biggest names on Broadway. She may not have been when she recorded "Stars and the Moon," which is why when I saw her for the first time in concert this week, I was certain she wouldn't sing it. It's a small thing really, a song. Heard a long time ago. A lifetime ago. I knew so little then about love and life and loss. And yet when Audra introduced her next number as one written by Jason Robert Brown (wait, what?), from the production Songs for a New World (could this happen?), titled "Stars and the Moon" (No. Way.), I could only bring my hand to my mouth in an attempt to contain my glee. Again, it's a small thing. A song. But I wanted to hear her sing it all these years later, to see the sincerity I'd always detected in those lyrics.

I attended the concert with my darling boyfriend, who, let's just say, is not the Broadway enthusiast that I am. He wasn't familiar with Audra or, barring a very few exceptions, the songs she performed, but understanding after the first few numbers that these were songs from shows, he leaned over and asked, as sincerely and innocently as only the Broadway-clueless can, "Will she sing Wizard of Oz? I like Wizard of Oz." I stifled a smile and replied, "No, that's not really Broadway, honey." And then she closed the concert with Somewhere Over the Rainbow, at which point I could no longer stifle the smile. Some nights are just perfect. Some songs are, too.

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MAR
03

For Frank

I moved to town when I was 9 years old, and while sometimes I think I must have come off as a bit of a freak to the local jeweler (what kid is this interested in jewelry?), mostly I think my passion for his work must have delighted him. 

I always planned to follow in his footsteps, to become a jeweler. Life happened differently, of course, but when I finally wised up and decided to pursue my dream, even if a bit late to the game, it was Frank whom I called to get advice about training options. He'd gone to GIA, so I did too, and while a perfect end to this story might have been me buying his store, a slightly less perfect ending is me winding up in the sparkly industry of gems and jewelry after all; of seeing Frank at various tradeshows throughout the country; of being able to talk shop with this man I've long admired.

Me wanting to make him proud could be a classic case of someone meaning much more to me than I did to him, but I still hope on some level that I succeeded; that the thought of this Graduate Gemologist's clumsy start as a shy salesperson cleaning fingerprints off the jewelry cases of his store made him happy. I dedicated my second book to him ("For letting me in, for showing me the ropes, and for always being so sparkly.") and after he read it, he told me he hadn't realized my time in his store had meant so much to me. But that's the thing about life, about plugging along doing the thing you are passionate about, however ordinary it is to you. Because you never know who you are influencing, what young person is taking note and making plans based on the appeal of your everyday. You never know when your ordinary will be someone else's sparkle. That's what Frank was to me. And I will miss him.

If you are a professional, I encourage you to find a young person who finds your ordinary sparkly. Be a mentor, a friend, and let's do what we can to pass our passions down the line to those who come after. And if you knew Frank, my hometown jeweler, I trust you feel as lucky as I do.

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