People have frequently asked over the years how I got started with beads. In the beginning I gave a brief and honest answer but the truth seemed to make them uncomfortable as it is wont to do, so I reduced the following to say that a friend introduced me to them.
This is part of my story.
1999 was an epic year, one filled with the kind of life changing decisions that alter every event to follow. I separated and subsequently was divorced from my best friend, my true love, my soul mate. Put simply, I left for good. I knew I was making a mistake~ even going so far as to say the words "I know I will regret this one day, but I have to go." The truth is I regretted it already, that day, standing there watching the man I loved and promised to cherish cry silently at my words. Even though I told him the opposite, my reason for leaving was because I loved him. Having been told by numerous doctors I would never carry a child to term put a giant crack in my heart, but were I to be the reason he never fathered one would have broken it completely.
I spent a good deal of time drinking that last year I was with him, hiding from the decision that had to be made and numbing the emotion that accompanied it. When I left I moved back to Alabama determined to leave that behavior behind me. I would be near family and friends and thought maybe old familiar places would make the loss and transition bearable.
I was wrong.
What I discovered was that alcohol was no longer necessary because some of my old friends had in recent years found a substitute to offer that wasn't accompanied by idiotic behavior or sloppy speech. I'd never heard of crystal meth until I snorted my first line of it, nor did I care to learn anything about it. To say it perked me up would be a colossal understatement. It didn't make me high, what it made me was awake. I saw the world the same way I always had, but the difference was that I now felt as if I could once again conquer it. I still hurt, but I had too much energy to linger on it for long.
I got a job tending bar in the local happenin' night spot. I found a duplex with an awesome interior brick wall that featured a fireplace. I told myself it was all temporary and I would be okay. And for a while I was. I rediscovered my creative self and started writing and drawing and imagining again. I also picked up my first seed bead. I had an aquaintance through mutual friends who strung jewelry, and I found myself fascinated with the tiny little filler beads she used so I started building my own little stash and spent endless hours intensely focused on them. Sometimes I would string them into necklaces, but mostly I sifted them back and forth in my hands with visions of beauty I had no idea how to make running through my head.
About six months later I was sitting in my den with friends and had recently graduated to smoking meth in folded aluminum foil. A few of us had been up for 5 days. FIVE days with no sleep. Someone behind me asked me for a cigarette, so I got one out of the pack and held it over my shoulder. One of the friends sitting in a chair next to me laughingly asked what I was doing, and when I told her she laughed harder and suggested I was maybe too old to be talking to imaginary people. I looked over my shoulder and discovered noone was there.
A moment of clarity doesn't begin to describe the onslaught of awareness I experienced right then. I'd just offered a cigarette to the noone who leaned over my shoulder and asked for it.
I went to the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face. I looked at the reflection staring back at me from the mirror. I say reflection because what I saw didn't qualify as a person. I had become little more than vacant eyes in a hollow shell. I was disturbingly thin, the result of eating only a few bites of whatever I sometimes remembered to force down. I put my hands on my shoulders and found bone. I looked at my arms and saw only elbows, my legs and found only knees. Then I took a long honest look at my face, and though the sight made me want to cry my body could not produce the tears.
...to be continued...