Every week a different FADER staff member will pick a clothing item or accessory that he or she has lately been spending a lot of time with—or would like to—and write a little love letter to it. We would’ve done a column on who we’re dating but that seemed a little bit much. This week Alex Frank writes about the Im:Mortal Light Points Crystal.
I got into crystals because of some BFFs I met in college. They're California girls so they've been steeped in new age, cosmic theologies since they were born, but I had gone most of my life thinking that superstitions were flaky. I was raised in the post-Jewish tradition of the secular and the rational. We went to temple but didn't take it spiritually, more just a dinosaur of a tradition. The real religion forced on me by my parents was one of human deities, people like Woody Allen and John Lennon and Patti Smith, whom they idolized and in turn become hereditary gods to me. Who has time for invisible, unprovable faiths when there is real shit to be into?
Things started to change for me after a visit to those college friends in California I took when I was 20. In the span of two weeks, I visited an ashram in the brown mountains around Pasadena, was courted by a young, handsome Scientologist handing out pamphlets at the airport, attended a massive Alcoholic Anonymous meeting in a Grand Hyatt conference room, drove past about a million gleaming glass mega-churches, and went to a coffee shop in San Francisco called Cafe Gratitude, where enrobed waiters sang positive aphorisms to the customers in between blending $14 Dandelion green and Kale milkshakes. Most importantly, everyone wore crystals, asked me about my astrological moon and rising signs, and drank Kombucha, a beverage that had to be taken on faith since it seemed to offer no visible or obvious benefits except for lightening your wallet. My left brain self was pissed off by all of this. There were way too many California salvations floating around for me to intellectually process. Who were these people, all of them believers in invisible faiths of some kind?
My right brain self, though, was enjoying the breeze. These hopeful Californians happily lived their clichés and seemed better off for it. They ate healthy dark greens and made their beds with Mexican blankets and walked around barefoot in their front yards and loved driving in their air-conditioned sedans to the mall and macrobiotic restaurants. Their various spiritualities incubated an endless drive for self-improvement. These were women and men on a mission, using health food stores and churches and hotel conference rooms as strategy centers for battling mortality and malaise. My East Coast cerebral life seemed far less peaceful than the California steez. If I quieted my mind a bit, I loved California, I thought that it inspired qualities that I needed in my over-wrought, anxious life. It sounds schlocky, but that's entirely the point, a coast that happily has faith in its own sentiments and affirmations, and spreads them around willingly.
One of my California friends gave me my first crystal a year or so after this trip. I never took it off and after a lot of abuse it broke recently and I replaced it with this beautiful one, wrapped in soft leather, from Im:Mortal in Los Angeles. I still don't know if either of them do possess spiritual, invisible healing power, but they'll always have one palpable and real function. Every time I neurotically and awkwardly fiddle with it at bars or parties, or any locations where I'm uncomfortable or on edge or feeling less exceptional than the many exceptional New Yorkers I meet in a day, I think about California and my friends there and all those fresh juice stands and cheap, giant avocados, and especially how much I liked driving on the long freeway to La Crescenta when there wasn't any traffic. I get a cheesy faith that life could be filled with warm weather hope if I ever wanted it to be. All I'd have to do is move West, buy a car (it would be my first, I've never owned one), rent a split-level in one of the many canyons surrounding Los Angeles, and that thin-skin that kept me from succeeding in Manhattan would turn a perfectly golden California brown. It's just a dream, it won't ever happen. I'm too anchored to the East Coast, hardened in place by concrete and a love of bagels, a food that California has not perfected. And I'll also almost certainly never be a person of any real spiritual faith either. But it is nice to visit La La Land every now and again, and, in this case, wear it around my neck.