It was getting late in the day. I was exhausted. My back hurt. My feet hurt. I was weak and my stomach was growling so loudly that the neighbors called to ask if we had a new dog. But I needed to push on. Our to-do list was long and most of it simply had to be finished that day.
Most of my day had been filled with garage sale prep. Some families from our Financial Peace University class are having a joint garage sale next weekend. Since we will be out of town right on through the first day of the sale, we needed to have all of our stuff cleaned, sorted, priced, and delivered to some friends’ house by the end of the day.
I was almost done. Then I noticed a bag sitting on a chair instead of in a box. Oh, yeah, I thought. I have some more bags and purses I was going to put with that. I almost blew it off. But, no, might as well get it all. So I trudged into the laundry room and glanced at the shelf that held the tub full of old purses and bags. It was underneath the tub stuffed full of gift bags and tissue paper. Oh, man, I thought. I don’t want to move that heavy tub… Oh, come on, just finish up. And with that, I moved the top tub, opened the bottom tub, and extracted a half dozen purses and bags.
Back in the dining room, I opened one purse and dug out all the old receipts and what-not that I had been too lazy to remove when I stopped using it. I stuck a price sticker on it and set it aside. I picked up the next one. One dollar, I thought to myself, noting how small it was. It was remarkably clean inside. No papers or other debris. Check the inner zipper pocket, I told myself. It looked empty but I stuck my hand in anyway, feeling for anything left behind. On my last sweep, my fingers hit metal.
It felt like a ring. I smiled, wondering what bubble gum machine find I was about to extract. What memories of brief childhood obsession might flood my mind when I took it out. And then I looked at what I held in my hand. I dropped the purse and clutched the ring tightly in both hands. I looked quickly around the room and felt dazed. My knees were weak.
I rushed to the front door, bumping boxes on my way out. I fumbled to open the door because my hands were shaking. I stumbled out and croaked my husband’s name. He looked up, not quite alarmed, but concerned. He told me later that he knew something significant had happened but he couldn’t guess what.
I ran to him. Failing to slow down, I raised my hands so the one not occupied hit flat on his chest as I crashed into him. He grasped me in a giant bear hug and asked me what was going on. I cradled my clinched fist against his chest and pressed my face into his shoulder.
This was the moment. I was only going to get to tell him once and then the moment would be past. I wanted to savor it. I wanted to shout from the mountaintops yet whisper it in his ear yet delay so the moment wouldn’t be over.
Finally, I pulled away and pried open my fingers. He looked down into my hand. Looked down at my long lost wedding ring. And laughed. He laughed and laughed and hugged me tight with such joy before asking, “Does it still fit?”
I swear my hands shook more than any bride on her wedding day as I gave it a try. I had to stick my knuckle in my mouth in order to slide the ring past it, but I got it on. And on it shall stay.
“I guess I can’t give you a hard time about that anymore,” he said with a smile.
See, that ring was “the story.” You know, every couple has at least one. The one that gets trotted out to such great effect. It usually happened something like this:
Someone would notice our tattoos on our left ring fingers and ask if we got those when we got married. We would explain that we had gotten them for our 13th wedding anniversary. And then we’d explain why: because we were always taking our rings off when backpacking, rock climbing, kayaking, etc. My husband wanted it known that he was married all the time, so why not get tattoos?
Then the someone asking the question would ask another one. “Well, do you still have your wedding rings?”
“I do,” he’d say significantly. All eyes would then turn to me as I finished the tale.
I’d shift a bit in mock discomfort. “Well,” I’d say, slightly defensively, “we were going on an outdoor trip. Three high points and then rock climbing. I was afraid I’d lose it if I kept taking it on and off. Or someone might steal the car while it was in there or something. So I decided to just leave it at home. But I didn’t want someone to steal it if they broke into the house. So I hid it. Really well. Really well. We still haven’t found it.”
That was something like seven years ago. I thought for sure I had tucked it back in a drawer or on one of the shelves in the closet. But we remodeled the closet and it wasn’t there. And we sold the dresser and I thoroughly checked it before we let it leave. We also gutted the bedroom – all the way down to the studs (not looking for the ring – just remodeling). No ring.
I have insisted all these years that the ring would turn up. Just like the five year anniversary ring did. I took that one off while rock climbing indoors and then couldn’t find it. It was missing for at least a year when we decided to get the tattoos, which were patterned off the anniversary ring.
I woke up the morning after the tattoo and broke out in a cold sweat when I saw my finger. “Oh, my God! Oh, my God! What have I done? What have I done? I can’t cover this up! It’s always visible! A tattoo on my hand?! What was I thinking?”
Eventually, I rolled out of bed and, for some reason, went looking for something in the closet. What I found, in the inner zipper pocket of yet another old purse, was my anniversary ring. I took it as a sign that the tattoo was not the end of the world after all.
So when I lost the wedding ring shortly thereafter, I told my husband it would turn up. Just like the anniversary ring. At first, I wasn’t worried. I always knew I would find it. Or maybe I should say that it would find me. I knew that some day when I least expected it, there it’d be. Unless I was being pessimistic. On those days, I would resign myself to the fact that the ring must be gone. After all, where could it possibly be?
Which brings us to today. When I came *this close* to selling my ring for a dollar and never, ever, ever knowing what had happened to it… unless the lucky recipient was generous enough to bring it back.
Circumstances then lined up just right that we found ourselves childless at dinner time. We decided that celebrating the ring was in order. We chose Chinese food and sat across the table from each other, both staring at the ring. And I ordered a Strawberry Daiquiri, my drink of choice from our younger days. And we smiled. A lot.