I first formed the idea in the basement of my best friend, watching movies from her parents' VHS collection full of classics like The Graduate and Citizen Kane. Carrie and I would lounge in the cool dark basement of her parents' huge house, munching Asian seaweed crackers and sucking down cokes. Carrie was a doctor's kid, born two weeks after me, but a year ahead in school. She encouraged me to get tested and into honors classes as a freshman because I was smart and the AP classes were full of nothing but rich kids (like her) in our school district. She had an Amoco credit card for gas and an American Express for everything else. She wore her dead grandmother's platinum and diamond rings. She took me on her family trips to their cabin in Idaho to cross-country ski. Her house was full of tasteful Scandinavian furniture, original artwork and smelled of mothballs and pipe smoke. Her father, the radiologist, rarely addressed me more than an arched eyebrow over the binding of a hardback book, but I knew he respected me from the questions he'd ask while he'd pour my wine when I'd stay for dinner. Carrie never ever had to think about money. When I was wondering if I should even bother taking the SAT, (a state school with scholarships was probably my best option) she was applying to the University of Chicago, Northwestern and Stanford. In Carrie's basement I was first introduced to Miss Holly Golightly. I understood what she felt when she would peer into the windows at Tiffany's. I wanted to be independent and free. I really could care less for a marrying a rich South American, I just wanted to be comfortable, to travel, to enjoy fine things... I wanted to never ever have to think about money...

These ideas amalgamated in my consciousness as some weird goal, some true accomplishment. Tiffany's somehow became cemented in the back of my mind as this pinnacle of really making it. When I could walk into Tiffany's and buy what I wanted, something that would be gorgeous but outrageously priced, I'd know that I'd done all right for myself. I'm by nature a person that refuses to pay for a name, but this was different... I always liked the quality, simplicity and clean lines of the Tiffany designs, and there are few things I love more than jewelry.

Last fall, I went to New York for Internet World, a corporate funded week of sensory overload, esthetic pleasure, excess and growing up. I met my high school sweetheart for lunch in Gramercy in an upscale restaurant that serves bread from his wholesale bakery. We were both dressed in suits and we just stopped dead to look each other over... both very successful, both in this city of all cities, still relating to each other like we did in highschool, like we always will. We walked arm in arm down the Grammercy streets and laughed about two lower-middle class kids from Kansas and where we were now. It got me thinking... Afterwards, I took a taxi to Fifth Avenue. I had the driver drop me off two blocks away, just so I could walk up to it. There it was, just like in the movies, just like in the book. Atlas ushered me in and I spent two hours in Tiffany's utterly mesmerized. Of course I knew most of the design lines, Nature, Etoile, Elsa Peretti, Paloma Picasso, etc. but it was still fascinating to see it in person. Nothing has a price tag. After a long search, I settled on an Elsa Peretti platinum and diamond ring, which was the most unusual and appealing design I had ever seen.

When I walked out onto Fifth Avenue with that ring swinging in a little blue sack tucked inside a little blue box with a white satin bow I think I was three feet above the ground. The wind blew my hair back and I must have had one hell of a look on my face from the double takes I was getting. I had one of those Mary Tyler Moore moments... I coulda ran out in traffic and thrown my hat into the sky for being me, being independent, being self-sufficient. I endlessly go through jewelry; I'm always changing my taste. The Tiffany ring, however, will have to be pried off my dried-up little finger when I die, 'cause it represents my self-appointed right of passage into this material world.

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