My fingers first grasped the subject of this story when I was seven years old. It had a foul, tragic past before it came to be in my possession, as it had belonged to my Aunt Laura who was murdered by her boyfriend while living in Alaska…(perhaps it even played a part in that tragedy). When my father and my uncles went up to Alaska to bring the body of my auntie home (and as I later secretly learned to seek justice in the lawless frozen land) they hurriedly gathered some of her things, packed in boxes labeled with “Black Velvet.” In my child’s mind, the boxes were appropriate for my beautiful dead Aunt Laura’s belongings, which were as magical in my mind and heart as she; I envisioned the priceless trinkets to be gently folded in layers of the luxurious, regal cloth that I understood velvet to be.
Several months later, my grandmother, heartbroken with having to bury the youngest of her five children, presented me with one of those Black Velvet boxes containing some of Aunt Laura’s personal items. Since first seeing the boxes I yearned to see the contents, but understood fully that they remained off limits to me. I was dismayed to learn that my new treasures were not cherishingly packed in soft, black cloth, but instead haphazardly tossed into a cardboard box with no recognition and care for their value. Dismay was quickly replaced by amazement as I lay eyes on the contents of my inheritance; among the contents I gently began to examine were a pair of designer Calvin Klein jeans (barely larger than my own waist size, but what seemed to be twice as long as me), some shiny black shoes with heels so high that it appeared impossible to actually walk in them, a bikini swimsuit that was so skimpy I blushed at even touching the fine, turquoise fabric (and where in Alaska was she using this?), a few nearly empty perfume bottles, a cassette tape, some pictures, and then my fingers touched it….a glass so small it appeared to have been made for a child, with a picture of a woman bent over at the waist, her rear-end in the air and visible as her skirt had been tethered up for all to see, with the words “Bottoms Up” written boldly underneath. The object I am describing is known as a shot glass; to me it was a priceless treasure.
Over the course of the next few years I would often take out my box of artifacts, all of which would later be carefully replaced for the next time, except for the shot glass which was always on my dresser, in my sight and in my grasp many times each and every day. I would done the jeans and the shoes, and pretend to spray the now empty perfume bottles, and raise my precious shot glass up, as I pranced around my room to the music on my auntie’s cassette tape. With an imagination as grand as the land of Alaska where the glass had come, I would pretend I was sophisticated, popular, important, and cool as I knew my Auntie Laura had been. The glass would glint as I held it up to the light, as if it contained its own world inside. The shot glass magically transported me to many exotic locations within the confines of the four walls of my bedroom.
With time and new interests, the Black Velvet box made its appearance less often, eventually to be buried at the back of the closet. But the shot glass remained ever present, always within sight, always given a position of authority and respect among the other objects coming to live in my room. As a young teenager with a much more jaded view of the world, I came to understand that my Aunt Laura was not perfect or regal; she was young and wild, searching for love and adventure and fun, but not extraordinary to most. This realization didn’t alter the amount of love that I held for her, but brought to it a spark of sadness and nostalgia as grandiose images of what I imagined to be her exotic lifestyle melted away to reveal the reality of violence, mediocrity, and tears which had been her life at its end. Seeing the few pictures of her taken within the last few months before her death made that very clear; those were the photos that my grandmother had chosen to bury deep within the Black Velvet boxes she put away in the very back of the room in her house that no one ever went in—the one with the door that was always closed and IF you HAD to go in the room, you wanted to leave quickly because it smelled sickly and stale and was always freezing cold, even in the midst of summer.
Though the shot glass was always in mind and sight, it sat dormant for a couple years, its powers over me slowly evolving, it’s plan for me changing. Though I began consuming alcohol regularly during early high school, I became a regular consumer during my junior year that I spent in Japan as an exchange student. The shot glass did not get to travel with me to the beautiful foreign land and perhaps resented that since it had taken me on multitudes of fabulous adventures, and it was barely noticed the following busy year, the last of my childhood. As I left home on my first attempt to accomplish a college education, the shot glass had a renewed and differing role in my life. It was during this time that I first consumed spirits from its body. Consumed is clearly the correct word for this process, as within a few short months these spirits were the highest of priority in my life. Again I was being transported by the magical glass on new, exciting adventures, but the price I paid to travel was high; soon I could not travel both roads of drinking excursions and school and thus I deserted my path of education with only a hint of doubt. The adventures that I became consumed with when I took in the spirits from the shot glass became less and less pleasurable, and with increasing frequency involved violence, dishonesty, anger, and fear. After a particularly vicious partaking of the spirits with a man whom the shot glass had united me with, I sat in tears, beat down emotionally, physically, and especially spiritually. I picked up the glass, now glistening in and containing my own blood from the scalp of my head. As I held the glass in my hand, I recognized for the first time that the deceitful object was not good and beautiful, but instead angry and hateful. I threw the glass with full force across the room, arrogantly yelling I would not be controlled by it or its evil spirits any longer. Yet as I spied the glass where it now lay on the floor on the other side of the room, I again saw it glisten and I felt chills; the shot glass is treacherous and had no intention of letting me escape that easily.
For nearly a decade and a half the shot glass held me prisoner, though there were periods within that I convinced myself that I was having a good time and thus could not see the boundaries of my confine, my mind poisoned and controlled to believe untruths. The spirits I took in left no room for my own spirit or that of my Creator or my Elders, and so I became but a shell of a person, trapped between the worlds of the living and the dead. Never did I understand that I could not stop consuming the spirits per my own free will, as I deceived myself as easily as I was deceived by the shot glass. However, there must have been enough of me yet living because eventually I began to weakly resist the power the nasty object held over me. By this time I understood that the deliverer of the evil spirits to me also carried my heavy burden; shame, guild, regret, hate, and pain. Though the treacherous shot glass had influenced my happiness and doom, had delivered me to destruction, and had held the keys to my prison, I realized we were actually slaves to each other in a terrible, desperate relationship. The glass needed me as much as I it to accomplish its horrible intentions.
Knowing that I was not unique, just as my beautiful dead Aunt Laura before me, I sought help from others who had been enslaved by their own mystic masters. In this I learned a very enlightening lesson: control is an illusion, and one only has as much control over another as that other allows…at any time that other can take their power back (either alone or by enlisting the help of others with strength), and the first is left with no control. I unleashed the wrath of my inner warrior led by my Creator to fight and regain my control from the possessed shot glass and its spirits. The initial battle was long and hard fought, as the glass did not want to relinquish the control over my life that it had, and there have been and will continue to be (during the remainder of my life and for the next seven generations of my descendants) more battles. You see, the master spirits actually own the powerful shot glass, and they are always searching….searching for souls to corrupt and bodies to inhabit; they consumed the powerful shot glass and they consumed me for years too. I was lucky to get my life back, and I keep the shot glass as a reminder of where I (and those before me) have been. The shot glass is now my prisoner, destined to carry my pain as I have turned it over entirely to live a life of happiness and fulfillment.