Monday, November 24, 2008
Wedding Ring, Anniversary Ring
I am not a huge fan of jewelry. Certainly, I can admire it on its merits - I adore looking at creative and beautiful objects no matter what their function. But, for myself, jewelry is troublesome. My loving husband has, several times, gone to inordinate lengths, to find and purchase for me the most beautiful necklace. I have a few of these exquisite finds. And I just absolutely treasure them.
But, I can't deal with anything around my neck. So....a problem. I have a few symbolic earrings and I religiously wear a tangle of bracelets that bang around and are inscribed and remind me to care about the things I care about. But.
I do wear two very important pieces of jewelry every day. My wedding ring and my 10th anniversary ring. These rings live with me day in and day out and how they came to be in my life and what they mean to me maybe say something about who I am.
First, our wedding rings. We were both graduate students when Mark and I got married. We were both adamant that going into debt for a ring was crazy. So. Simple gold bands. The lovely guy at Shane Company actually had to go to the mat to get us a pretty box because our level of ring didn't generally warrant such fluff. Many years of marriage and neither one of us ever regretted the simple gold band. Both rings together cost less than $100.
By the time our tenth anniversary approached, we'd been through the ringer. A lot of life had come at us very fast and things were not only tense, they were, suddenly, no longer guaranteed. We really didn't know if we'd make it to 11.
So, we threw a party. A hellacious party. Catered, my father flew in from Toronto (a first), and the distinguished man who'd driven down to Oregon to marry us agreed to a re-do. We lived in a beautiful water-view house on the west side of our island and everything was wonderful.
Except it was the just about the hardest time in our marriage. We were struggling with so much anger and betrayal and grief and hope and sorrow. We were trying to pick ourselves up from near tragedy, we were trying to part the clouds so we could see what the future might look like. And we didn't even know that three weeks later, Mark would be told he had prostate cancer.
But, I knew we needed a celebration. We needed a party that toasted all that was the good we created and did not shine a light on the struggle we were wrestling with.
We had that party - that amazing gathering where Dr. Hubert Locke arrived to give his thanks that this union he'd created 10 years prior thrived in beauty, that party where my father flew from Toronto to share in his daughter's joy, that gathering of friends, old and new, where fantastic piano music flowed joyfully throughout the house, where I wore my anniversary ring in public for the first time.
Sometimes I take my wedding ring off, to make dough or because it's a little tight now. I never, ever take my anniversary ring off except to clean it. Why?
Well. My anniversary ring is made of platinum. It has 10 stones, one for each year we were together before. Six sapphires (my favorite) and 4 near-perfect diamonds. I love this - that the diamonds and the sapphires total 10 - which was a complete accident. But, my anniversary ring is a touchstone to me in a way that my wedding ring can never be.
First, when you are in your twenties and you get married, simple is easy. Not to say I was glib - I wasn't. But. That first, gold, ring represents a promise. A real, serious, promise. It's an important reminder of the beginning of the story, the road we started down together. The things we swore.
Here's what Iove about my platinum anniversary ring. It's really beat up. Yes, it has sapphires and diamonds, tiny as they are, but the band is beat to shit. I wear it every day and I love it so much because for me it represents a time in our marriage when things where NOT promising, when the future was NOT bright, but we hung in there. We didn't particularly like each other but we said, hey, we are in this for the long haul so let's delay these life decisions til later.
I'm glad we had the wisdom to do that. And, when I look at my anniversary ring, misshaped and warped, I love it all the more. Marriages are hard and their outcomes are uncertain. I like to look at my left hand and see the promise and then look at my right hand and see the reality. The beautiful, beaten-up, real-life reality.
Next summer will be Anniversary Number 17. I can't wait.