I started with a tarnished quarter, and then remembered a handful of British coins I found among my father’s things after he died. But, I’ll start with a 1000 Chilean Pesos bill.
We were in the process of packing to move to another office space when I found the bill tucked into the cover of a book. I asked my manager about it, but she had the book for so many years, she couldn’t remember where it even came from. We decided most of the books on the shelf could go to the local Friends of the Library book sale, but we should keep the odd find. It is now prominently pinned to the partition wall in our new office. 1997 is the year on it. The year I bought my condo. Also the year I had my first “real” full-time career oriented job. Six years on from my divorce, it had taken all that time to finally land on my feet. What I didn’t know was 1997 would not be the beginning of something wonderful, but the start of the next tumultuous phase of life.
1971 two-pence coin: That year I was in grade school in southern California and every bit youngest child of upper-middle class suburbanites. And a beach bum, if you can call a little girl that. A friend lived next to an access stairway down a steep cliff to a beach only locals knew about. I remember time spent on those beaches as the happiest of my childhood.
1984 sterling pound coin: College. I lived in an apartment with a roommate I barely knew at the time, but who would become one of my closest, life-long friends. By that year, I had figured college out, what I wanted from it, and had come to know myself well enough to lay out some personal boundaries in regards to family, friends and the boys who came sniffing around. I was not reckless, but I had no fear. I wasn’t a know-it-all, but I was confident, as only a person who has not yet been truly kicked about by life can be.
1990 five-pence coin: Yeah, well. The year I realized it was falling apart, and from which I was forced to rise from the proverbial ashes.
Which brings me to the tarnished quarter: 2000. Pushing 40 by then, I started that year in a strange juxtaposition of being very ill with the flu, but going in anyway for my first day at a new, exciting job. I was determined to keep moving forward, though exactly in which direction, I was not sure.
Looking back makes me think of that thing people ask: If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self? I used to shrug and say that I wouldn’t change a thing. But, now? Maybe it is because of the effect of this year’s constant state of crisis and spending so much time at home by myself that I can finally answer the question. (Smiling secretly to myself) I know exactly what I would say.