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I have three wedding rings.
|The one on the left is my first original wedding ring. The others are surrogates.|
Same marriage. Three bands.
The first one doubles as a wedding ring and an engagement ring. It's a white gold band with three sparkly, hopeful diamonds. Even though it is often admired for it's uniqueness, there's tradition in the center diamond, as it belonged to my mother and came from her engagement ring. When the jeweler removed the stone from the prongs on her gold thin band, somehow the diamond chipped. I had them set it anyway, and on May 10, 2002, Cole and I wed, exchanging bands, mine with an aesthetic flaw, yet nonetheless sturdy. The inside reads, "With all my love."
Somewhere around year 7, my wedding ring didn't fit. I lost so much weight, my body and mind underwent so much change that with even the subtlest movements, my ring would slide off and ping ping ping to the floor. And during violent gestures, it would launch across the room, a thud and a dent in the drywall.
Afraid to lose the ring, I boxed it safely in a velvet lined jewelry box between a wooden bracelet that my sister brought back from Korea--with some symbol on it that meant "friendship" or "love" or "dignity" and a red slap watch. I swapped it out with a ring I purchased years ago in high school. A band made up of 4 thin bands, which at first glance appear solid, but when removed the puzzle ring crumbles into the pieces; 4 weak rings that bend under pressure.
|The middle ring is a puzzle ring, which is made up of four smaller rings. You can see from this shot that the middle one doesn't always have it together.|
I wore the puzzle ring for almost three years, watching it wear and flatten in places that should be round. Since the ring has so many crevasses, I spent a good deal of the time scraping the edges clean with my fingernails, but it was never fully untarnished.
At first I resisted replacing it, because I was waiting to see if I would lose more weight, to see if I was destined to shrink anymore. I had asked my husband to make the adjustments to my first ring, but when he procrastinated month after month and year after year, I grew used to twisted ring.
It wasn't until after I took a trip down memory lane that I decided it was time for a new ring. I was flying back to my family when I had a layover in Denver, CO. In a Native American boutique, on a rack between beaded arm bands and a rack of turquoise dangly earrings, I saw my third ring. It is a wide band made of a darker metal with a matte finish, and it has an etching of two flowers that seem to be reaching for each other, tails vine-ing out behind them, but never quite touching. To me it seemed a symbol of power and fortitude, something my high school ring didn't provide. However, when lifted, the heft I thought it had disappeared like a mirage.
Ultimately the longing flower ring cost me $12. Less than both of the other rings, but I felt it was a purchase of far greater value. It would endure the pressures of life without bending. It will never replace my first ring, but it also won't be mistaken for costume jewelry.
I doubt it will be my last ring. I doubt my body will stop enduring change in the years to come. My hands will no doubt be required to carry weights I cannot imagine. My tinted industrial, yet feminine band fits me, resting in the indented cavity on my left ring finger, filling the emptiness.