[about the author]
i actually like speaking in front of large crowds. freakish,
i work crossword puzzles in ink.
i am the american nigella lawson. or maybe the american eddie
izzard. can't decide, really.
i would be a really good mom, but i'm cool with being a really
i am sometimes more perceptive than i would like to be.
i am fiercely loyal. sometimes, stupidly so.
i never play dumb. never.
i am way too hard on myself.
i am a change agent.
i sometimes cross that fine line between assertive and aggressive.
i am not afraid to tell people that i love them.
i am militantly pro-choice.
i am pro-adoption.
i know a little bit about alot of things.
i typically enjoy the company of men more than women.
i am capable of being really mean and nasty, but i fight it.
i am a lifelong cubs fan. do not laugh.
i have been known to hold a grudge.
i have hips.
i am not my sister.
i am lousy at forgiving myself.
i am an indoor kind of gal.
i am a bargain shopper. to the point of obsession.
i am 32 flavors. and then some.
with this ring, i me wed
the first time i saw it must have been in a magazine. probably instyle. although i think it was during the 90s, so there’s a good chance it was a bridal magazine. i had a “phase” with bridal magazines in the late 90s. i was fascinated by them. despite the obvious fact that i wasn’t getting married. i just loved the pictures. the dresses. the flowers. the cakes…especially the cakes. i think it all has to do with just loving a good party.
at any rate, there was an ad.
like most girls, i have had a lifelong relationship with jewelry. there’s the tiffany baby bracelet that someone gave to me before i was ever born. of course, my mother, believing strongly that jewelry on babies is creepy, never put that on me.
then there’s the cross pendant with the diamond cluster at its center. that one was first communion.
at twelve came the charm bracelet, with its tiny bicycle.
sweet sixteen saw a ring with a creamy pink-hued pearl and two sparkling diamonds.
high school graduation brought my first pair – okay, my only pair – of diamond earrings.
and, of course, there was the ring. the ring he put on my hand when he asked me the question.
it wasn’t a big stone, but i remember thinking that was probably for the best, since i have relatively small hands. i’ve always appreciated the fact that i have small hands, although i have often wished that my ass would follow their lead.
at any rate, despite its relatively small size, it did have one saving grace: it was perfect. literally. flawless. it had the brilliance of stones twice its size, and in those first weeks, i often held my hand outstretched, watching the prisms dance across the wall as the sunlight skipped across my ring.
thinking about how he loved me. and how everyone would be able to tell by looking at my hand.
after the divorce, i put it in back into its black velvet-lined box. i haven’t looked at it once in the more than ten years since.
i took to wearing silver after that. i liked the way its cool sheen contrasted against my olive skin. i thought it looked sophisticated. i thought it looked modern, and liked to think it was some sort of representation of me becoming a different person after my divorce. but, the reality was, it was the only jewelry i could afford.
over the years, i’ve probably flipped past hundreds of jewelry ads, never stopping for a second glance. but, when i saw this ring, it stopped me dead in my tracks.
i loved it. everything about it. the simplicity of it. the clean lines. the bulk of it. and, of course, the diamonds.
and i started to think about the boy who would buy me that ring. and how i would gladly let him buy me that ring instead of a traditional solitaire. how i would snuggle a simple platinum band up against it, and how it would look on my hand.
i tore the ad from the magazine and slipped it into a drawer. i made a mental note of the designers’ names and set out to find a store near me. i had to see it in person.
and when i did, it was clear: it was made for me. destined for me. i loved it even more in person than in the picture. the way it felt – it had incredible weight to it. the way it caught the light.
but i couldn’t afford it.
i tried it on in several stores over the years. i felt like a young arthur, pulling excalibur from the stone – it sang to me when i slipped it on my finger. and, of course, eager to sell such a pricey bauble, the clerks always chimed in with “oohs” and “ahs” and “it looks beautiful on your hand.”
once, i tried it on when i was with a boy who i thought would buy me a ring. would give me a token of undying love and a promise of happily ever after. but, he didn’t. he didn’t particularly like the ring.
“it’s nice,” he said.
maybe the fact that he couldn’t hear it singing to me should have been a sign.
later, i found the ring again, in a jewelry store just up the street from where i work now. but, at the time, i was jobless and only wishing. i couldn’t resist trying it on, though, despite the fact that i felt like julia roberts in pretty woman when she first tries to buy something in that chi-chi beverly hills boutique. the men behind the counter took their time waiting on me, sure i was a “looker” not a “buyer.” as i admired the ring on my hand in what was becoming a familiar ritual to me, the man behind the counter gave me the bad news.
“if you like it, you’d better buy it. we won’t be getting any more. they filed for bankruptcy.”
it was true. the designers had parted ways. gone out of business.
i could feel it slipping away from me. the idea that this ring was destined for my hand. that i would one day have a diamond and platinum ring on my hand. well, that ring, anyway.
i saw the ring in one more ad after that. i tore it out and placed it in the drawer along with the first one from years before. i remember thinking that was as close as i would ever get.
then, while visiting atlanta this summer, my friend, mike, asked me to go shopping with him. he was going out of town for the weekend with his girlfriend, and wanted to dress-to-impress.
“i need your style advice.”
i was happy to offer it, especially since it gave me a chance to cruise through my own personal nirvana: the neiman marcus outlet. oh, i’d heard rumors of the existence of such stores, but they were a rare beast, and spending the day shopping with mike at the outlet mall near his house offered me a chance to see one up close and personal.
mike was well on his way to being a sharp-dressed man, and i was loaded up with all means of candles and cosmetics when we headed toward our final stop: the saks outlet.
i had sent him off to the fitting rooms to wade through the armload of shirts we had culled from the racks.
“i’ll be up front.”
“near cosmetics, no doubt.”
“no doubt. i do love the lip gloss.”
after a quick tour of the cosmetics department, i headed toward accessories to wait for his return.
and there it was.
i couldn’t breathe. couldn’t believe it.
i had to try it on one last time.
“excuse me, could i see something out of this case, please?”
“i’ll have to get a manager for you.”
two women, the younger of whom might have been 65, came and stood beside me.
“oh, those are some lovely pieces.”
“yes, they are. i wonder why they’re at the outlet store.”
and, with that, i told them. the whole story. about my ring and how i had seen it years ago. about how much i had wanted it, but no one had ever come along and given it to me. about how this would be my last chance to try it on because they weren’t making it anymore.
after i had stopped, one of them reached out and put her hand on my arm.
“sweetheart, that’s your ring. you were supposed to find it here. it was just waiting for you.”
“absolutely,” chimed in her friend. “you are going to try it on, aren’t you?”
“yes, one last time,” i smiled.
“well, are you going to buy it?”
“oh, you have to buy it!”
and, although it sounds impossible to believe, i hadn’t really given serious thought to the possibility. all these years, i had been waiting for someone to come along and give me that ring. why? because, that’s what girls do. we wait for a boy to give us a diamond ring. we might buy ourselves other rings, or other baubles, but, a diamond ring?
i had worked so hard all summer, traveling and living out of hotels. my primary goal had been to earn as much overtime and bonus money as i could, all in an effort to keep my financial head above water. the rent on the apartment i had shared with mark was more than my salary could pay…i needed every cent i could get. and our conversion project had come along at just the right time, allowing me to make my rent payment until i found a new place to live.
“can i help you?”
it was the manager.
i stared at him.
mike was standing at my side now.
and i told him – and in doing so, told everyone standing around the case. how this was my ring. how i thought i had lost it, but here it was.
one of the elderly women put her hand on my arm, “try it on, honey.”
but, i needed to know what i was up against first.
i looked at the manager.
“is this the only one you have?”
“yes, these are the last of them. they’re all one of a kind now.”
“so, if this one doesn’t fit, you don’t have another size in the back?”
“no. this is the only one.”
i turned to mike. “if it doesn’t fit, that’s it. it can’t be resized – the diamonds go all the way around.”
he smiled at me. “and if it does fit?”
i looked back at the manager.
“if it does fit…it’s destiny.”
the women crowded just a little closer, leaning in to watch.
the manager slid the key into the lock, opening the case. he took the ring out and held it toward me, sparkling under the halogen spotlights.
“i can’t. you do it.”
i held my hand out toward him as he slipped the ring onto my finger.
a perfect fit.
before i knew what i was saying, before i had time to talk myself out of it, before i passed out, the words were out of my mouth.
“i’ll take it.”
i think a small cheer went up from the crowd, but i can’t be sure.
as i leaned against the counter while the clerk rang up my purchase, mike looked concerned.
“i think you’re hyperventilating. but in a really cute way.”
"am i insane? what do you think? do you like it? am i crazy?" i managed to ask through my hyperventilation.
and mike, in that way that only mike can, smiled at me and said exactly the right thing.
"i don't think i've ever seen anything more perfectly you."
and that’s how it came to be that i spent money i didn’t have on a ring that didn’t exist anymore. it’s been almost six months now, and there isn’t a day that goes by that i don’t look at it and smile. that i don’t take a moment and admire it, turning my hand to watch the light dance across the stones.
and, although it is beautiful, it’s not really about the diamonds. or the platinum.
it’s about how long i waited for it. how hard i worked for it. how i finally gave myself permission to get it for myself instead of waiting for someone else to love me enough to give it to me. it’s about the simple pleasure that comes from doing something nice for yourself without guilt. without remorse. with pure, unadulterated joy.
and, even though i wear it on my right hand, i get questions and comments.
“your ring is stunning – is it a wedding ring?”
“i love your ring. are you married?”
“gorgeous ring…you must have made someone really happy!”
the truth is, i did.
and sometimes i hold my hand out in the sunlight, watching the prisms dance across the wall as the sunlight skips across my ring. thinking about how i’ve finally come to love myself. and wondering if anyone can tell by looking at my hand.
ed. note: although it doesn't really capture it, and although this post probably isn't really about the ring, here's a shot to satisfy your curiousity:
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