Self-Portrait as a Plus-Shape Pendant

// Gia Kornfeld

To the left of my bathroom mirror are three mounted hooks, which hold layered, tangled strands of glass beads and freshwater pearls and black cord. The necklaces are the devils on my shoulder against the rush to get to class or work in the early morning. I face myself when I snap the liquid eyeliner pen shut and secure my choppy bangs behind my ear, and when I think I will make it out the door on time the decision of collarbone adornment stops me in my tracks. Maybe the off-white ribbon with a plastic pendant of an unknown tuxedo cat flatters my sweater. Although, the D20 dice attached to the 20-inch ball chain is appealing, hanging like a medallion of nerdy intrigue and is dyed a sophisticated earthy color palette. Struck by decision, I often reach for the sterling silver plus shaped necklace. It hangs on the front of the middle hook, easily accessible. I don’t struggle to secure the miniature clasp behind my neck, my neck does not crane forward at the familiar weight on my chest.

I bought the cross necklace in September of last year. Mostly an impulse buy, I admit, but impulse buys have been made before after a few tempting posts popping up on my Instagram feed. The necklace was made to mimic one worn by a character from an anime called Neon Genesis Evangelion, a purple haired young woman named Misato. She’s a beacon of despair for any other young woman who makes rash romantic decisions and has horrible self care technique. I always thought the scenes of her neglected apartment full of empty beer cans make you want to laugh at her then cry with her.

A brand by the name of Angeltype designed it. It is high quality .925 silver and has not worn down any despite wearing it almost daily. It reminds me of the discounted $100 silver bands I bought with my first boyfriend. Upon paying at the counter of a small jewelry store, an afterthought tucked in the corner of a bustling grocery store, the cashier grinned sweetly. “You two will like these rings, they’re perfect for honeymoons at the hot springs. They won’t react to the water.” 17-year-old me shakes her head with a bewildered smile equal to hers. They are promise rings. I am not married. Now buried in a pure white ceramic trinket dish, the thin band is hardly tarnished beyond light scratches, worth the price.

 The scrollwork texture of my plus shaped necklace is entertaining to fidget with, and I often find myself playing with the weight, dropping it against my chest, then lightly scratching along the swirly surface. When I get surprised or worried, I grab it and fiddle. I imagine that I resemble a traditional feminine woman clutching her pearls.

As a young girl, Misato receives the cross from her father as a reminder of his existence before an apocalyptic event the show calls the Second Impact. Years later, before she dies during the Third Impact, she places it into the palm of the main character, a cynical boy named Shinji who unwillingly has humanity’s fate in his hands. In between those landmarks of Misato’s character arc, she loses an ex-boyfriend she once hated. Or rather, she hated missing. Or she hated depending on.

What does the plus shaped necklace mean to me? Well, plenty of my jewelry was purchased or gifted with a memory or meaning behind it. A thin silver bracelet that has hanging flowery charms and boasts “granddaughters are a blessing” has recently joined my jewelry rotation with the intent to be doubled as a fidget toy. I squeeze either side of my wrist and the wires fold over one another, compressing and reducing itself at my will. The pinky ring picked up at an antique store during my second visit to my college, with layered hearts carved into the center of the band, collects residue in the cracks after extensive wear. My cheap white and neon green beaded bracelet was given to me by a stranger at my first K-pop concert, wide round letter beads in the middle spell “M♡RK,” the name of one of my favorite members of the band. The concert girl explained that she ran out of ‘A’ beads. I always read it as “MORK.” However, the plus necklace holds no meaning, maybe besides the fact that it looks interesting. It’s a clean slate, and is not meant to pass on any sort of memory of fathers or impacts or what I have put onto this Earth. Yet it is my favorite piece of jewelry.

Besides the necklace, I have bought one other product from Angeltype. A collared shirt for my ex boyfriend. I got it on preorder in an excited haste, identifying the characters on the shirt as being from his favorite manga and promising him this for his birthday. I see it poking out of a recycled mailer on top of my dresser every day with a 5-page handwritten letter, the reminder of the dead romance causing me to postpone the gift until I say “fuck it” and drop it in a mailbox eventually.

To me, Misato isn’t a woman at all. She is the hope of a man’s survival. What a selfless story it is to display your father’s name on your chest, then before sacrificing yourself making sure another man will be there to keep you alive. It is self-preservation, but living only through the eyes of the men in her life was self-destruction. I think about whether the removal of her necklace in the end is her saving her attachment to men or denouncing it entirely.

I stare at my reflection on the black desktop screen as I am still wearing it. Discussing differences in religious belief on a slow Tuesday, my coworker, playful with a hint of hesitation, questions the cross on me. I am agnostic. I immediately pinch and flip it, as if the necklace will simply fly off of my body if pointed out. “It’s anime merchandise, have you ever watched Neon Genesis Evangelion?” They smile in a newfound understanding. It’s a funny contradiction, isn’t it?

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