Much of the process of getting married has been a journey of discovery about who I am, who I thought I was, and who Mark and I are together. This discovery process is not of the general internal kind- it’s public. Getting married is a public statement. It is a public commitment to each other, and for this reason societal and traditional expectations come into play. Like rings.
I was never one for jewelry. I tried to wear rings and bracelets in junior high. I remember sitting in the auditorium in agony, desperately wanting to just taking them off. It felt like I was being constricted, squeezed to death, tortured. This is how I feel about socks and pants sometimes too. Necklaces gave me rashes and aside from that I hated the feeling of something against my skin. I had my ears pierced when I was around 8 but that was a huge, allergic, pus filled disaster. They closed up. People think I must be an insane person because I don’t have pierced ears. Whatever. My mother’s earring hole just ripped open and now she looks like an African tribesman (or, ya know, one of those super cool skater kids.) Who wants to deal with that? Ick.
So for most of my life, I have been jewelry-less.
What would I do when Marriage Time came? Not wear a ring? That’s not very festive, and besides I sure as all hell want HIM to wear a ring. (Though I have a theory that slutty no self esteem women salivate when they see a wedding ring on a guy because it is a CHALLENGE. They think: if I can get him to cheat on his wife, I am such a hot slut. I know how girls think.)
Wear a ring around my neck? Maybe. Necklaces, I thought, were the least offensive form when it came to my claustrophobia of the body.
Get a tattoo ring? That was particularly appealing, but I couldn’t think of anything aside from a black line. And anyway, Mark is not that type of guy.
So I figured, ok, ok, I will try the ring thing. If it doesn't work, it doesn’t work. I’ll get the black line tattoo.
The first ring I looked at was in Costco, our favorite store. (I'm going to have to create a Costco post.)
But I thought- I can't get a ring from COSTCO. How cheap. How trashy. How odd. But it was such a pretty ring.
My friend Kia got her ring at an antique mall in Sherman Oaks. While there were some pretty rings, and it was great fun to poke around, the rings were so tiny and might've fit me when I was 5 years old.
Then Mark took me to the Diamond District in downtown LA.
It was like being surrounded by gypsy children, sticking their hands in your pockets while a little trained monkey goes through your bag to steal your purse. I FLIPPED out. I felt like I had been slimed. All the glass cases, all the people calling you over, all the DIAMONDS. A saleslady said to Mark as I stormed out the door, "What kind of woman doesn't like diamonds?" I should have just puked on the floor.
After that, Mark took me to a flea market on Melrose. No rings, but they had lots of 80’s era glasses and dishes. I would like to go back and buy some, as I am not crazy about matching plate sets.
During the ring search, we continued our weekly Costco trips. Costco is literally right next door. We would walk in and I’d tell Mark, “I'm going to visit my ring.” I’d stare at it through the glass. A gold band-I didn’t like gold, did I? Don’t I like white gold better, or silver? A pretty red stone that glittered. Two teeny tiny diamonds on the side. No one bothered me to buy it. Costco was just Costco all around.
One day, on a Costco trip for bulk coffee grinds, we just went ahead and bought it. Mark jumped at the chance. I made sure that they were conflict-free diamonds and that Costco was all for universal health care (they are an AWESOME company.)
Now, it's five months after he asked me to marry him at the Grand Canyon. My ring is getting resized and I feel so sad. Empty. Like my hands are lost without it. Like the thing belongs on my finger. Like it was meant to be there. I can hardly wait to put it back on. Sometimes this person I am is unidentifiable to myself, or to my younger self, or to the self I was a year ago, but this is who I am now. A girl who loves her engagement ring, and all the things it symbolizes.
The only one left was in the display case- the same one I’d been staring at for months. As we waited for them to bring it to us, I started crying, because I got scared. I knew it was my ring. I knew we were doing this- WE WERE GOING TO GET MARRIED. I knew, for the first time, that it was really happening and I wanted to have a panic attack. (It's ok, this is just how I work.)