Recently I wore my special beads. I don’t know what they are made of exactly, but they look like tiny brown peach pits or miniature unshelled walnuts whose sharp edges have been eroded by time. I was about to write, “just like me,” which would be wishful thinking indeed, since time has not eroded all of my sharp edges. Yet. In addition, I don’t think I ever resembled a tiny peach pit, or anything else tiny, but that’s another story.
This strand of beads could be plastic, or hardened nutshells from an exotic country. I don’t know. But there again, the phrase “hardened nutshell” or at least the word “nut” could have some resonance with me. But I am not from an exotic country.
This strand of beads used to be much longer. Long enough to wrap around my neck two or three times. But now, there’s no wrapping around to play with different lengths. Just the one length. Period.
These beads are special because they remind me of losing and being lost. And of finding and returning home. These beads are special because they are indeed mine.
I bought them at a special time. When I was ill, mentally. The nurse from the hospital used to walk with me down Spadina Avenue in Toronto over 50 years ago, when it wasn’t safe for me to walk anywhere by myself. I found the beads in a little store on the west side, a block or two south of College Street. I always liked them. They reminded me of positive moments from the hospital.
Several years later, I couldn’t find my beads anywhere. I must have misplaced them, I thought. Or worst case scenario, lost them. Eventually, I gave up trying to find them. They were gone in fact, but not in memory. And every time I thought about Spadina Avenue, I’d think of my lost beads.
Then one day, for some odd reason, my eyes glanced over a vacation display in the window of the CIBC bank on the southwest corner of Church and Dundas. Hey, you can borrow money for your holiday, it suggested. I don’t recall what was in the display exactly, because my eyes were transfixed on some beads draped over a towel or some other fabric, with some loose ones alongside. A pair of sunglasses and perhaps a small picnic hamper were also featured. But all I saw were “my” beads. In the window of the CIBC! I knew instantly they were mine, because I’d never seen any other beads like that. Ever.
So I went into the bank and asked about the beads. Where did they get them? How long had they been in the display? Nobody knew. I told someone I thought the beads were mine because I’d lost mine. And since there were loose beads, the strand must have broken. I said I lived across the street above a store in an apartment I shared with friends. True. I told them they didn’t cost very much when I had bought them several years before. Also true. I told them I wanted them back, and asked what did I have to do to get these beads back. Honestly, I do not recall what else I said.
Whatever I did say was effective. Unbelievably, they gave me the beads. I say “they” because I do not recall who handed them to me. Perhaps there was some time in between, when an employee had to check with a manager. Perhaps I was told to wait a moment, or to return the next day or week to find out what would happen. Also no memory of that.
No memory of anything else. Just that I got my beads back. And I’ve had them ever since. They are mine.
I have not worn these beads for decades. But I took them with me when I lived abroad for years, and I kept packing them up when I moved from place to place. No trouble, really.
And one day recently, just like that, I decided to wear them. And to remember how special they were and still are. Apparently. They are the beads that were lost. And now are found. Yes, just like the song. And yes, just like me. Exactly like me.