The Sea Glass Lamp

At my parents’ house, in a corner of my old bedroom, there is a special brown card box I treasure. The content of the box is a handmade sea glass lamp, a gift from my high school best friend given to me more than a decade ago.

She and I were both members of the school’s Earth Science Club, but it wasn’t until in the second year that we became friends. We were put in the same class, and in the room full of bubbly chatty girls, we two were the awkward ones. Always left out from the crowd during the breaks.

I don’t remember who spoke first, but we started talking to each other during one of those lonely lunch breaks. At first, tentatively, but later, eagerly.

“I always feel I’m saying the wrong thing,” I confessed to her one day. “I often feel close to tears when I’m at school.”

I’d braced myself for a cold stare, but my friend’s response was nothing like I’d expected.

“You do?” Her voice was smooth and full of understanding. “Me, too. Being at school is hard, isn’t it?”

The amount of relief I felt in that moment was so huge that I felt as if I’d taken the first breath of my life. The knowing that there was nothing wrong with me for feeling the way I did – what a powerful feeling it was!

From that day forward, my school life became less tortuous. I still felt as awkward and invisible in the classroom as ever, but now the presence of my friend made my day brighter. Every day, we’d find joy in eating our lunch at most unexpected places where nobody even bothered exploring: a hidden corner of the cluttered Earth Science classroom, the forbidden rooftop, or the riverbank outside the school’s premise. And our lunch was always accompanied by an endless conversation about life, our struggles and future visions.

After graduation, my friend and I both spent a year preparing for the university entrance exam in Tokyo. Though we didn’t live close to each other, we’d still meet up from time to time for our cherished conversations over a coffee or a meal.

One hot summer evening, we took a record long walk across the city of Tokyo and ended up in front of the historic pond near the Ueno Station. As we gazed at the sea of lotus leaves in the water shimmering under the streetlights, my friend took out something from her bag.

“I have a gift for you.”

“A gift?”

“Well, nothing glorious. You may not even like it… But here.”

What she handed to me was a rather heavy card box with a lid that said “Especially for You.” When I opened it, a beautiful arrangement of blue glasses came out. They looked like transparent pebbles.

“Press the button to turn on the light,” urged my friend.

As I followed her instruction, a white LED light shone from inside, letting the blue and white glasses to shine like jewelries. My breath caught in surprise.

“They are called sea glasses,” explained my friend. “I used to collect them on the beach near my parents’ house.”

“Wait… You made this?”

“Yes, I did,” her face flushed. “The glue doesn’t smell great, but…”

“Oh, I love it!” I exclaimed. “It’s so beautiful!”

Nearly fifteen years have passed since that night, but the sea glass lamp still remains in a perfect shape. Every time I visit my parents and sleep in my old bedroom, I take out the lamp from the card box. As I watch the soft glow of the lamp through the layers of white and blue sea glasses, the memory of that night by the lotus pond comes back to me like yesterday along with all the special days I shared with my friend in high school.