Author of the moment, can you tell me?
Do I end up, do I end up happy?
When I was a foolish child in my early twenties, I was pregnant with my third baby. My love was working as a farm labourer, with no winter income. We survived on a combination of patient family support and social assistance in order to keep a roof over our heads when the weather turned cold. We lived in a $9,000 house that we couldn’t afford to repair, in a ghost town where there were no services and only a few close-knit neighbours. We had one vehicle: a rickety old K-car with peeling blue paint.
On my left hand, I wore an engagement ring of 10k gold with a tiny diamond, a token, more or less. And a slim band, the pair of which together might have been worth $200. But they were worth everything to me. He bought them with money he didn’t have, when he was 19 years old.
During that pregnancy, on a drive into the city, my hands swelled dangerously. My ring finger lost circulation, and we had to have my wedding band cut off. It was painful in more ways than one.
In the intervening years, the bands sat in a drawer – one cut, both made for child-sized hands which I do not have anymore. I told myself I’d get them repaired after I lost my last round of baby weight. I told myself I’d get them repaired when there weren’t so many other things to pay for.
A couple of weeks ago, My Love told me we’d get my rings and his (also made for a smaller, younger hand) repaired and resized now, not someday.
We took them in, and the clerk looked at them. They wrote up the estimate, then looked at my damaged bands. “We’ll call you with a quote, and you can decide whether you want it done or not.”
I felt like saying, “Excuse me? Did I hear you right?”
The cost of repair, with the price of gold these days, was about what we paid for the rings originally. I picked them up this morning and walked out of the store wearing them. I felt giddy, as if I were wearing my engagement band for the first day after he’d given it to me. Like I wanted to show it off to strangers.
I picked My Love up from his extra half-shift of work. As usual, as it has been since the beginning, the first thing he did was put the car in gear and drive. “Wait, wait, wait!” I said. “Stop. Stop!”
He rolled his eyes.
“Enough of that,” I ordered. “I am about to make a romantic gesture.”
Another roll of the eyes, but he held out his hand while I took his ring out of my purse and slid it onto his left hand. Then he gave me that look that men sometimes get, the one we women refuse to explain to our befuddled children.
I stretched out my fingers and smiled down at them. “Well, gosh, I feel like a respectable woman again.”
I’m sure he sassed me for that. I wasn’t really listening. Been married too long.
We had lunch together before going home to the two teenagers and two middle-graders who now occupy our space, interrupt almost every conversation, and don’t just get befuddled looks on their faces. They start making air-raid siren warning noises whenever we get too close to each other.
I kept noticing the flash of gold on his hand. It made it real all over again. Like the moment at the altar when you trade those bands, and the concrete reality hits you. Like the first few weeks afterward, when your names fit together in a new way and you both start wondering how in the world you’re going to take care of it all.
It works out. There’s some tough talk, some times when things feel like they could all fall apart. But with two normal human beings who are not otherwise out to do damage to each other, who aren’t in it only to try to harvest fruits they never sowed, falling apart is a decision, not a circumstance.
And it’s always possible to decide that things are going to hold together. Barring extreme circumstances, marriage is not a 50/50 roll of the dice.
We were made for that kind of depth, that kind of dangerous self-exposure at the soul level. Every dead end has a skylight. Every wrong turn is a new beginning. That’s the fellowship of the wedding ring.
Let me riddle you a ditty, it’s just an itty bitty little thing on my mind:
About a boy and a girl, trying to take on the world one kiss at a time.
Now the funny thing about it, ain’t a story without it, but the story is mine.