For me, the week between Christmas and New Years is a time for spending some quality time with anyone in my family under 15. Or, so I thought, until my nephew Robert, 12, told me he wanted to go to the American Museum of Natural History on our yearly holiday outing. Since he hadn’t asked me to do this in years, I’d forgotten that we would be waiting on line and weighing ourselves on Mars with–the ENTIRE Manhattan school system on winter break.
Soon I realized it wasn’t just the NYC out-of-school-ers, but those from the tri-state area, Italy, Denmark and Japan. You name it. Kids of ages of sizes–that wanted to see the mammals, the dinosaurs and those that wanted to get back to the hot dog concessions outside– oodles of kids, kicking, screaming, speaking different languages and spilling Coca Cola into my crushed leather handbag.
While still on line to get tickets, I turned to Robert and asked, “So how bout bowling instead?”
My nephew wanting to stay, pointed to the the Hall of Minerals and Gems on the museum map and asked with nonchalant smoothness, “Don’t you love this collection. I think we should go there first.” He had me. At 12, he already knows how to win girls hearts (through offering up jewels) and how to work me into getting exactly what he wants. Big deal if he had to put up with my describing the difference between platinum and Palladium and that amethyst is really quartz. He took it in stride.
I am lucky enough to have a nephew who, when gold was at it’s high this year, told me “if you melt down all that you have, your net worth would go way up and you could split it with me.”
His financial skills aside, he has an affinity for all things prehistoric or in their natural form, stuff that comes from the earth, from the sky to the sea. And, he has been to see this permanent exhibition with me since he was four. I helped him start his own mineral collection from bins of stones at the Museum Shop. Many times at my house he would excavate my own collection of rough gems and geodes that I kept in a large bowl, asking for the ones he thought were unusual and those, he just liked saying their names.
After getting lost three times, we made it to the Minerals and Gems Hall. I began to breath, relax and drown out the toddler tantrums. I was rocked into a meditative state–aware of all the beauty around me, all the pieces of history that began my love for jewelry. I was entranced by the myriad colors of tourmaline and garnet, the fancy colored sapphires from different parts of the world, the rough diamonds, the way gold looks like tiny little granulated flowers when mined, the natural occurrences in the minerals when the come directly from the earth.
As I was explaining various gems and properties to Robert –who was interested in discussing the history and lore, the legend and the nature of what he was seeing-I was taken by the magical feeling of rediscovering my true love all over again.
I finally said, “To the Dinosaurs”, trying to break lose from a five year-old who was grabbing at my shoes.
“Nah lets go see the Blue Whale,” Robert said. “There is a display I think you will love–diving for pearls and also some great coral reef sections. He was right.
Later over cheeseburgers and French fries, I wondered if it was my nephew who knew I needed to reconnect with my passion –and took me–on our outing this year.
P.S-To all parents and the truly wonderful little ones out of school, wishing you the happiest New Year, twinkling with less gadgets and apps and more golden memories, crystallized minerals, meteorites and finding out what your weight is on Mars.