Mhairi buying her beads.

I had absolutely no idea what kind of beads I was going to get. Unlike the pencil skirts, I had not spent evenings in baths thinking about the beads of the world.

Living in LA is useful when one embarks on a shopping trip to buy massive amounts of something. The fashion district was made for just such trips. We parked and immediately found ourselves in a swirling madhouse of bags of beads as we entered the sub culture of beading people. People who thread beads on all sorts of things and who need to know how much bags weighed. We didn’t give a monkeys about the weight; we needed cold hard numbers. We were dealing in days of our lives, not the grams of our remaining hours.

Getting facts about bead numbers was challenging. A small Chinese woman weighed a couple of bags and gave us unsteady answers as to the numbers they contained. Johanna began considering different colored wooden beads. I still had an empty head as to which beads I would go with. All I could think about was what would I want to look at for the rest of my life. I didn’t want something fad like, that I would regret in a dozen or so years. These would represent Me and My Life. How does a life look in bead terms? Was anything eloquent, graceful and beautiful enough to illustrate what I wanted my life to be like?

We each began to grapple with the magnitude of what we were embarking on. It resembled some sort of drugged experience. I started to sweat and felt a little ill. Not quite sure why, but just thinking about the length of my life and that I was choosing something to accompany me on it until the bitter end. The whole thing suddenly felt massive.

Then suddenly I saw the pearls and all wisdom and sense were restored. Here was something timeless and also connected me to my past. My aunt had passed away when she was my age, so this whole year I have been very aware of the fact that some people never make it beyond this. From this year on, I will have gone further than my aunt Judy did. She left me real pearls that I had recently worn for the first time.

So pearls link me to my aunt, also to Chanel and also to the very fact of what they are. From a grain of sand, in the center of a not particularly attractive thing comes a precious and beautiful object. Just like any day could begin a little gray but could transform itself into something incredible.

beads 2

So I told the shopkeeper what I needed and he was seriously bemused. His eyes got twinkly and he asked me to tell the other shopkeeper what I was doing. Clearly I was the first person to ask him for 16,300 beads in order to represent the days of my life to come.

He counted beads against a length of ruler and then calculated the amount on the strings of beaded pearls. We over shot it and I bought it.

Johanna still had to buy hers. I kept looking into my bag at the beads as she chose colored wooden ones. Did I regret what I had chosen? Were they the right choice? Did I want other colored ones too? I kept staring into the bags of pink and apricot colored pearls as if they would just shout yes back to me. They didn’t but somehow I came to terms with my choice and felt that the pearly beads would be the perfect daily representative of my life to come.

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  • tires October 11, 2014 Reply

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