It was 1983. I was a recent college graduate, with no real job and no prospects, slumming in a bookstore and sharing a duplex with my best friend and another student acquaintance.
Our townhouse was, once upon a time, kind of a classy place...rumor had it that Frank Lloyd Wright had designed our building, which we didn't believe for a minute, but you could tell that whoever had built it had cared about its design. But that had been upwards of 45 years ago. Now it was ramshackle inside and out; repainted untold times on the inside; windows so loose that in the winter the sheets of Visqueen covering them billowed like sails; appliances from the 50's that were constantly breaking down. Our living room furniture consisted of a single mattress and spring on a metal pull-out bed, and a bookcase made out of bricks and planks.
Still, we tried to make the place as homey as we could. I'd bought a straggly Norfolk Island pine, maybe two feet tall, to add something green and alive to our common area, and come Christmas I decorated it with some straw ornaments from an alternative Christmas fair, and some homemade paper snowflakes and other found items light enough to hang on the branches without the flimsy tree doing "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and bending completely over. ("Oh, no! I've killed it!") My friend was the daughter of a home-ec teacher, and had learned to channel her considerable nervous energy into a variety of crafts; this particular year she'd taken up origami, and she presented me with a lavender peace crane to add to my tree. At the time I found no special significance to the color of the crane, or at least none that I wanted to think about very hard because thinking about it scared the stuffing out of me. (I now find this hysterically funny, and wonder if my housemate knew something about me that I didn't.)
But, anyway, I still have my lavender peace crane. It has survived the end of that particular friendship, over time and distance, and numerous moves, as well as the teeth of my other post-college housemate's cat, who liked to surreptitiously remove ornaments from my tree and bat them down our basement stairs. I like to think that it's come to represent peace within myself just as it represents the hope for peace in the world. So it has an honored place on my tree.
A rare bird from my youth