Monday, April 30, 2012

Being alive.

I  made a pair of earrings today.

Not repaired, made. I have not made new jewelry in almost a year.

A year ago, I was prolific enough I considered selling my work on more than an ad hoc basis.  Then life intervened, in the form of illness and other crises, and jewelry-making seemed so much less critical than anything else. I still have a lot of pieces from that period languishing -- tarnishing -- in my jewelry bag.

The other day I was in Michael's getting beading wire to restring an already designed bracelet, when I was snared by a pair of platinum-plated butterfly-shaped connectors.  I do not believe in totem animals, but if I had one, it would be the butterfly. Many years ago I had a cotton shirt with a butterfly that I had painted on the back, and I wore that shirt until it fell apart.  It was a part of me, the way that particular pieces of clothing become part of you when you are too young to know how foolish that is.

I bought the connectors, not quite knowing why, thinking sourly that it was simply another thing to lie dormant in my beading box. Today, I took them out.

I did not have sterling silver earwires. I used stainless.  I had to remake them twice after I changed my  mind on the color scheme. I ran out of silver wire -- being able to finish only because I found a piece not quite long enough in my metals scrap bag. I made it work. There is a facile parable in there somewhere about life handing what you need, but I think I'll skip it.

I remade them because I decided the amethyst color was wrong; wrong for me at any rate.  I chose an indigo blue that is the color of the ocean at the horizon on a clear day.  I only had hearts, not baroque drops, so I sighed and used them anyway, sort of wishing the whole endeavor was not turning out so cutesy.  Hearts and butterflies. Teenagers wear them, not women with my years under their belt.

The wirework -- the craft I have always prided myself on -- is awful.  (Please do not even think "It's better than I could do," even if it is true: I have sold my work before and know what I am capable of.  This is not it.)  The wraps are uneven and the wires have not been snipped closely enough.

The new meds I am on make it difficult to work: they cause hand tremors and blurry vision, as well as drowsiness and occasional vertigo. I have been assured that the last three will correct themselves in time; the tremors (a certain level of which I already had) I am probably stuck with. I did the work anyway.

There is love there.  The feel of the silver wire in your fingers, the flash of the crystal as the light hits it, the silly shine of the platinum-plated connectors.  I can work only slowly, and badly, as of yet.  I have lost the muscle memory that once made making a pair of earrings such as this a matter of minutes, not of an excruciatingly slow hour.

Love is when you know whatever you are making will turn out badly, and you do it anyway.  That is true of jewelry making, of tennis, of pottery.  Of writing.

It is a daydream of many people that someone might show up and simply pay them for being themselves.  Not me.  I can't stand myself much of the time, and being paid for that would be a burden.  My daydream is that some one shows up and pays me to create.

Pays me to feel the slick wire in my hands, with the tools that shape them into earrings or necklaces; or pays me to hear the click of the keys under my fingers and see the words escape from my brain. Pays me to create. Pays me to live.

Because that is what creating is: life. Writing is half that, but not the whole.  I am glad that I have rediscovered the other piece.

Living life imperfectly -- is there really any other way? -- is so much better than the alternative.

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