I had taken it out a couple weeks ago, because it got infected and I wanted to let it heal up, so I set it on the mantelpiece to keep it from getting lost. Which it didn't, until I went to have one of the guys help me put it back in (it's a captive-bead ring on the upper ear, which I couldn't even take out on my own, let alone put back) and I dropped the bead. I watched that sucker fall, and saw exactly where it hit my shoe, and then it somehow vanished utterly.
I got my ear pierced, gosh, eleven years ago? Twelve? While I was still in grad school. It was the late '90s, and there were some days when, walking around campus, I felt a little bit weird for not having a tattoo. But I'd wanted to get the piercing for a while, and thought it would look good.
It was also a little bit symbolic. As part of coming out, I did a lot of thinking about ethics and sexuality and what was okay and what wasn't. And one of the conclusions I came to was that it was, y'know, it's my body. The only one who gets to make rules about what I can do with it is me. So it was also a way of laying claim to my own body.
But mostly, I just thought it would be cool.
When I got it pierced, it took me about ten minutes to explain to the guy what I wanted, which was actually just for it to be far in enough that the ring would stay in one position and not have room to flop around. The bead rests just on the outer curl of my ear. The piercing itself hurt a fair bit, being through cartilage, and I couldn't sleep on that side for about two weeks.
Getting the replacement, it just took a couple minutes to sort out the jewelry I wanted, figuring out what size it had been and finding a hematite bead. The guy fiddled with my ear for a minute, and I thought he was going to have to pause to get a pair of pliers or something but it turned out he was reaching for the mirror, because it was all done.