I remember you as the thin girl with dreads past your tiny waist, black tattoos running the length of your arms and hands, piercings around your lips and nose. Back then, you tended bar with an air of hostility and annoyance–your body like a cat, sauntering back and forth behind the counter, lean and marked. Poised. Tough like weathered leather and nails; striking and elegant like soft gold.
When you walked into my life last spring, I was unsure how I would ever relate. The two of us, so blatantly different, attempting small talk. You stood behind the bar stool, quiet and distant. Or sat in the corner of my patio and crocheted. I tripped around, serving homemade treats and pouring drinks. Most people mistook your distance for rudeness. I understood it as shyness.
And suddenly, there you were, slowly lifting the lid. I remember how you put down your small hand-spun project on the patio table, pulling your chair closer to me, excitedly talking about textiles, hand-made clothing, people in the craft world we respected. People we didn’t. I remember the way you leaned towards me, your eyes wide and laughing. Your long fingered hands wrapped around a second glass of whiskey, your black-painted fingernails chipped, your lean arms animated, your face framed by jet black bangs. As a new friend, you were like a mystery unraveling; stitch by stitch you handed me another story. You were fun and raw and incredibly funny.
The morning the call came, it was bright and warm. I stood still in the middle of the sidewalk, stunned by the news. I sat on the ground, gripping blades of grass and pulling them out in small clumps.
C told me the last night he saw you, you danced with him, and he laughed because you didn’t want him to leave the dance floor. You wanted to keep dancing.
In the days since then, I find myself wandering my studio, running my hands over pieces of leather, bits of cloth, dipping my arms deep into bins of wool and alpaca. I drive with music blasting, imagining your hands moving quickly over hand-spun wool and how you left such a deep impression on me in such a short amount of time: your authenticity, your unwavering commitment to your craft.
Your death has reminded me the world is an enormously beautiful and intensely fragile place.
You will be missed.
*Chopstix died on Wednesday, August 3rd of a sudden aneurysm. She was 30 years old.
(photographs of Chopstix Waits taken and provided by Marc Bollman)
(Chopstix’s facebook page)