In early Spring this year, my son Gus and I had visitors to our Camano compound; Sonia, daughter of my first cousin, and her dear friend Ella. The two of them had deferred college entry as the pandemic hit, opting for a ‘gap’ year. Together they outfitted a family van and took off from Oakland, CA, across and around the country. Making their way back to the West Coast I was honored to have my place be a pit stop.
Decades ago I took many cross country road trips, both with friends and by myself. I think I contained my desire to show them photographs of every single trip I’ve taken…at least, with each album I pulled out I’d tell myself I was only going to show a single photograph!
Spring 1993: Subaru all packed, Leaving Seattle for Santa Fe with Susie.
Their self-sufficiency at age 18 was impressive to say the least. They’d made a full kitchen in the back of the van from a desk, had a bed platform that folded up to reveal well organized boxes of clothing and supplies, and had mounted a magnetic rail above the windows on which they attached curtains at night. They even had a portable toilet!
Sonia showing the magnetic curtains, Immersion blender in the kitchen!
As we discussed what they’d like to do during the visit it was decided they’d have a go at making a simple silver ring. This led them to looking at my jewelry and exclaiming that they liked it.
Ella and Sonia making rings in my studio/shop on Camano.
I’ve only marketed to older grown-ups, being uncertain of what is ‘cool’ or otherwise acceptable to be adorned with when you already have the perfection of your youth, so this really floored me. Before they drove off (with completed rings on their remarkably competent hands), we hatched a plan to have them take some Loyalsmith jewelry with them on the last leg of their trip in exchange for some photos I could use for marketing and permission to share stories of their adventure. Win/Win!
The most obvious thing I've learned from their photos: multiple Loyalsmith designs can be worn at the same time if you have several piercings. I let four of my six close up about 25 years ago, leaving room for a single pair. Both Sonia and Ella consistently wear two pair at a time.
In the Olympic Mountains: Ella with a Loyalsmith 'Love' necklace and earrings, and 'Tiny Circle/Triangle Earrings'. Sonia with 'Donuts' earrings.
The timing of Sonia and Ella’s visit was perfect. I’d written my first blog post at the end of 2020, speaking to Identity as defined by living one’s own stories. Watching and listening to these young women reminded me of just how early the journey towards self-identity begins for all of us. Setting course under our own direction can make the entirety of life an adventure a person is excited to participate in, excited to share with others. I find that absolutely grand.
Thank you, Sonia and Ella, for allowing me to be part of your gap year.
Gus, Ella & Sonia on the beach.