Monday 10/17/16: I sat at my computer on this beautiful October morning after placing a crystal glass bowl on the desk where I was working. It contained folded up pieces of paper with writing inside and the memento of a loved one to guide me. I turned the page of my notes as I plucked away on my keyboard and the glass bowl fell off the desk and onto the carpeted floor. I thought the carpeting would soften the blow and protect it from breaking, but the bowl hit the leg of a chair and shattered into a million pieces. When I finished picking up all the sharp slivers of glass, wrapped it in multiple layers of an old TriCity and taped it so tightly that no glass could escape, I noticed there was blood on my hand; a tiny cut at the top of my palm. A small token to memorialize the event and remind me of its meaning. The only problem is I didn’t know what it meant, metaphorically speaking.
Later that evening, as I was having dinner at Medusa’s the new pizzeria-restaurant at the corner of 4th and Main Street, I ran into some folks I knew from town; Marshall and Donna, and her mom who’s visiting from Arizona. Donna went over to say hello to the two young owners; Aimee and Lauren. While they stood there chatting, a glass broke right in front of them. As expected, it got everyone’s attention. I looked at the broken glass sitting on the floor and was reminded of my own incident that morning. When she came to sit down, she told me about another occurrence that happened just a short while ago at La Tapatia, where they had stopped on their way to Medusa. She said they were sitting at the bar and a glass fell and broke. It seemed to fall from the sky, she exclaimed. She asked the bartender where the glass came from, and in nearly a whisper the young woman replied, “I have no idea.”
“I guess La Tapatia must have a ghostly visitor,” I said — like many of the establishments in this town. I told them about my experience that morning, and how I started the day by cutting my hand picking up broken glass. It got me pondering the idea of some sort of metaphor or symbolism to all this glass breaking in the same day.
I remembered how a wine glass once committed suicide off my kitchen counter one evening. I was preparing for dinner guests and was in the dining room setting the table. I had a couple of wine glasses sitting on the counter, and one of them leaped to its death and landed on the kitchen floor, breaking into several pieces. I looked at my date who was sitting in the living room, and then back to the kitchen. No one was near it. I didn’t think about what it meant at the time, but now I was curious.
When I got home from Medusa I did some research and began with Jewish weddings. It’s a tradition for the groom to break a glass by stepping on it after the ceremony. There are actually a few meanings behind this ritual, but the most popular serves to commemorate the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. And a reminder that even in a moment of great joy, there is still great suffering. In a more romantic version, it is believed that before you were born you and your soulmate were one single soul. When it came time to enter this world, God shattered the single soul into two parts. These two half-souls were then born into the world with a mission to find each other and reunite. At the joyous celebration of their wedding, you break a glass and immediately say the congratulatory wish of “Mazel Tov!”
Even though both versions have great significance, I didn’t see a connection. So I did more research. It seems that there is no one concrete explanation although I did come across some interesting theories.
There is a myth that glass symbolizes the separation between the physical and the spiritual plains –Heaven and Earth — and glass breaking is the spiritual side trying to communicate or get our attention. Perhaps that was the scenario at La Tapatia. Another theory is the breaking of glass represents a breaking away from something or someone. One woman saw the symbolic connection of breaking several glasses over the course of a few weeks to the fact that she was breaking away from certain people in her life. Another is that breaking a glass represents a shift in your energy, bringing positive change, a sign of the end of an existing cycle and the beginning of a new one. Coincidentally, there was a ‘breaking away’ with the person I was seeing not long after that glass leaped to its death.
One common thread I found is that glass often represents relationships, whether the relationship is between the physical and the spiritual, between god and man, between two souls. Just like relationships, glass can be crystal clear, it can be colorful and opaque, or it can be translucent and cloudy. Whatever it looks like, it is always fragile and must be treated with great care.