Saturday, December 1, 2012

Differences Can Drive You Apart, or Bring You Together.

"I just bought a Jimmy!"

I drank this whole pot.
I'm on the second half of my day full of what, for me, is relative decadence. It's Friday; the end of the busiest week I've had in a long time. On top of that, it's payday. So, I (continue to) eschew sleep (I'm running on 15 hours in five days at this point), and accept a lunch invitation with the PR power women of Closed Door Media. I eat the best seaweed salad of my life, drink a pot of green tea, and get a gift of designer iPhone 5 covers from my generous gal pals.

I get my nails done next, opting for an opulent set of white acrylic (with sparkles!) that make me feel more indulgent and glam than organic and simple.

Next, I know I'm headed to meet my longtime friend Mara, whose local status augments my social calendar like an Orange County plastic surgeon. She's invited me to a holiday party at her jeweler's - that's right, she "has a guy" - but first, I'm meeting her at the tail end of her Nordstrom shopping spree.

I read the text. "A Jimmy?" I ponder. Knowing the successful business woman Mara is, and her taste as a trendsetter, I gather she's referencing designer Jimmy Choo, which I associate with shoes, so it rings odd to me posed in the singular. Not wanting to highlight my fashion indifference, I text back, "Ooo, exciting! C U Soon."

Inside Nordstrom, I find Mara sitting tall in the makeup chair at Bobbi Brown. "Hi, friend!" she charms, "You look cute!" I gleam at the compliment, surprised because - next to her - I lose any confidence in my used and traded clothes.

Mara turns back to her makeup artist. "Is that the 'Champagne and Caviar' pallate?"

"Oh, look!" she gleams, and reaches behind her chair, plopping a big, gold, glittery purse on her lap. I examine the glinting label, which reads, "Jimmy Choo." Click.

Mara's new baby.
"Whoa...that looks expensive!" I burst, feeling out of place like a 12-year-old at a cocktail party.

She bursts out a fountain of colorful anecdotes and smart wordsmithism, in which I catch the figure "two grand." But apparently, that expenditure makes sense for her today, because she's a "level two" spender (a big deal), and Nordstrom has awarded her a bag full of "points" to purge.

My polished 28-year-old friend is talking botox with the makeup artist, whose 40-year-old eyes widen as she exclaims, "Don't you love when it kicks in? It's like, 'I can feel it working. YES!" Mara is unabashed about her experience with the wrinkle reducer, announcing she's been doing it since age 23. Per usual, I'm observing as Mara charms and entertains all of us with her bright personality and conversational monologue.

"Ok, so there's the foundation, blush, you want the brush, too?" asks the makeup artist.

"That's fine, throw it in there," Mara flips as she hands over her Nordstrom debit card. She turns to me, "With the points-back today," she calculates, "After what I've spent...I've made like 800 - that's like 200 dollars in rewards."

Swipe, sign, swoosh, and we're out the door and on our way to the party. We're in my little Suzuki, whose simplicity, though a far departure from her custom Range Rover, never elicits so much as a comment from my friend.

"I got my nails done," I say, my often chipped-polish nails the comedic bane of her existence during our hangouts. "God, THANK YOU!" she huffs playfully, but in all seriousness. "I'm glad your nails will look decent while trying on diamonds!"

We turn into the jewelry shop, one of the only places in town selling Simon G, I'm told. Mara's ring finger shelves one of the artisan's gargantuan masterpieces, which easily costs as much as a car - "Two, in some people's cases," Mara adds.

In the sultry-lit shop, cases of these extravagant rings seem to be the only light, and the rows of these sparkly gems cast shadows on the serious faces folks contemplating the purchase of a mutli-thousand-dollar relic. A woman whose hands look decades older than her stoic face, avoids her own, skeptical eyes in a mirror as she slides a diamond into her lobe; her aging male companion nodding in straight-faced approval.
Rings, watches, wine (and check out my cool nails!)

Wine, music, witty salespeople and EXCELLENT herbed salmon are satisfying the depths of my senses, while Mara barely sips her wine as she slips on ring after ring, working deals with her guy on her next "investment." 

She's tried on a particular Simon G. three times, asking serious questions each time. Its price tag? $16k.

Everyone in the shop knows Mara by name, so they make a point to meet the bewildered blonde by her side.

"This is Amanda with KUTV," is her usual introduction. But she adds, "She's all into organic stuff...she's not flashy like me."

Her guy offers to clean our wedding rings. I slip off my $100 white sapphire ring. Most people think it's a diamond, but I know Mara's guy wouldn't be fooled. It was originally bought as a stand-in ring for our shotgun wedding. Chris later gave me a real diamond ring, but once the monk blessed the original ring in Thailand, and I realized what a beautiful testament to simple living it is, I couldn't dream to wear anything else to represent our marriage.

"Did you know it was a white sapphire?" I ask Mara. She doesn't even bat an eye as she examines a turquoise stud. "No. It's pretty."


"Can you bring out the Breitlings?"

Mara's guy disappears, then returns with a case from the back. $20,000. $30,000. $53,000.

"So, what's the value of spending this kind of money on something like that Brietling watch?" I ask, genuinely inquisitive.

"It's a conversation piece," he offers, pleased to have a chance to talk about what seems to be his favorite subject. "It gives you a sense that you're in, like, a little club when someone recognizes the worth of your particular watch."

I'm in awe as Mara seriously examins the weight and strap style of each watch. She rips off her own Tag Heuer and tosses it on the counter as she tries on other styles. She seems to know the anatomy of every watch, pendant and ring her hungry eyes absorb.
Our wedding bracelets.

"Try one," her guy urges me.

My eyes fall on my worn bracelet, given to Chris and I by the Thai monk during our wedding ceremony. I admire it, then strap on the watch handed to me.

"It's one of three in the entire world," he smiles. And the pricetag reflects it.

After "one more lap," Mara and I say goodbye as we leave the party. She's still contemplating the big Simon G., and I'm wishing I had another piece of that amazing salmon. But we're both smiling, basking in each other's company, as we recognize our differences but enjoy them whole-heartedly, without judgement.

"Oh, here," I reach into the back seat. "Take one of these covers for your phone. They're designer." :)


  1. love it. There was a shop in Trolley Square that sold Simon G and Regan and I went engagement ring shopping there while still living in SLC. Ended up with a simpler ring that's totally me, but I still have a love for their collections.

    Your adventures with Mara make me smile. It's wonderful to be surrounded by great people.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Jen! I definitely admire their craftmanship as well. I want to see a picture of your ring!

    Miss you! xo