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  • Alexandra Hillenbrand


Three silver chains elaborately entwined each other with their cold metal clasps.

They lay, crumpled in a pile of undiscernible beginnings and ends. It is impossible to tell which opal pendant belonged to which thread. To see which link had gotten itself helplessly stuck in between the others first - the unwitting catalyst of an intensely tangled web.

These three silver chains found their way to me on a random Monday at work.

Their tangled state made their value obsolete - tucked away in the corner for any curious employee to try their luck with. If left unfixed, they would inevitably have to be damaged out. They'd be sent back to a warehouse - that might disassemble and melt their preciousness down. Or worse yet, relegate them to a fate of being unrealized beauty in a dumpster somewhere. I imagined if I neglected the necklaces, they might haunt me for the rest of my life.

I decided that I would undertake this challenge because it was a particularly slow day at work. I will try to keep it a humble brag, but I have to share my hidden talent. I am infamously talented at untangling jewelry. Give me any clump of frustratingly intertwined hodgepodges and knots, and I will have them separated and unharmed for you.

There are many things I'm not certain of myself regarding, but jewelry untangling,

that I have faith in myself for. I'm not sure why, though. There is no strategy when it comes to pulling apart the threads. My approach is messy and unbridled, often causing the jumble to look more erratic than before. It is a process that solely relies on my ability to trust my instincts.

There aren't many times when my spontaneous approach to life reaps any benefits. It seems like the people who have themselves and their lives orderly and neat are the ones who have it all figured out. After all, there's always a coffee stain on my shirt and an unexplainable gap in my memory. What I do have is patience.

After 3o minutes of unraveling and twirling the three silver chains, I had found the point of origin for the chaos. One tiny clasp had found its way threaded through one minuscule, disjointed link in its neighbor. After getting caught there, all subsequent shuffling and moving had created a seemingly unmanageable mess. To most, it would seem that the necklaces were beyond saving.

But really, it was just one tiny little dysfunction that had started it all. Although without going through the trouble of undoing every other little knot and twisted web, that first break would have never been found. That's kind of like people.

I think that in the same way that I am good at untangling jewelry, I'm also really good at untangling people. I find that the less structured my approach to getting to know someone, the more authentically I can understand them. In turn, I hope, they get the chance to understand me.

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