I unwrapped the small box, casting the colorful ribbons to the side. But, as I peaked inside, my heart dropped. I stared at the green disk lying on a blue velvet cushion. The fat jade bracelet sat there like a pair of handcuffs. I let out a nervous laugh. What was my aunt thinking in sending this to me?
A jade bracelet is no insignificant thing in my culture. It’s designed to be squeezed on with the help of butter and never taken off, at least not without the help of a hammer and tremendous guilt. It’s like a tattoo, permanent, but instead of telling the world about your artistic taste, it tells the world where you are from. I’m not embarrassed of my culture. I’m scared of being marked as one thing for the rest of my life.
I’m the type of person who hates to be pinned down. I like to dip my toes in the water until I find something that I love. By wearing the jade bracelet I’d feel trapped and forced into one box and one category. So I stored my bracelet away in the depths of my jewelry box hidden from sight. Maybe one day after I know I’ve tried everything I could possibly want, I’ll wiggle it onto my wrist. But for now, it will stay in the box, and I will be unmarked and free.