Sunday, January 12, 2014

With This Ring

I recently had the heady experience of designing my own engagement ring.
I have in fact been married for several years, but this isn't as backwards as it sounds.
This summer, I was at the cottage enjoying the heck out of a beautiful day when the brakes on my bike failed as I was zooming down a hill. I lost control, veered off the path into the forest, and hit a tree. Then I hit another. The second one stopped me dead.
It's funny (now that I've recovered and only have a few scars) because I can close my eyes and reexperience it in slow-motion: the rough ride, bumpbumpbumping all over the place, the fear and panic, all the brush whipping by me, and finally my tire striking trunk, my bike coming to an abrupt stop but my body continuing in its arc of motion. I distinctly remember the impact because it tasted exactly like my car accident. Is that the taste of fear? Adrenaline? Blood from my bitten tongue? I can only guess that in that split second before I myself made contact with the tree that I thought something along the lines of "not my pretty face!"
I don't remember having that thought, but I do know, as evidenced by 4 sprained fingers and a sprained wrist (and that's just on my left!), that I must have thrown up my arms in some sort of protective instinct.
Next I knew, I was lying on the forest floor, twitching uncontrollably, struggling to get my breath back, and deeply, terribly embarrassed.
Parts of my body had to be disentangled from parts of my bike. I was picked up and whisked away for treatment. I had to concentrate just to be able to list all the parts that hurt. I was missing a shoe, and a great deal of pride. My white pants were never to be pants again.
Anyway, I was still shaking as the rocks and twigs were being picked out of my wounds, but I looked down at my rapidly swelling hand and noticed - gasp! - that the diamond was missing from my engagement ring!
Sean was reluctant to leave my side, but I insisted that I was more likely to die from broken dreams than from bike injuries and sent him into the forest.
Yes, the forest. Poor Sean. He had the impossible task of scouring an entire forest for a nearly invisible pea-sized speck. "Fortunately", I had left scars on the tree as it had on me and Sean was able to pick it out amongst all the other trees. He merely looked down from the Jamie-sized dent in the bark, and there was my diamond, sparkling away, hardly traumatized at all.  (Meanwhile, I was frantically trying to grease up my sausage-fingers to get my leftover ring off before I'd have to have it cut off).

Weeks later, I realized that I didn't want to have my ring fixed because I'd always be worried about its fragility in the face of my surprisingly death-defying life. So I opted to do a re-design and found myself trying to convey my ideas in laymen-speak to a woman who loved her jeweler's goggles like nobody's business. She asked if I would like to reuse the gold from my setting or if I wanted to keep it. My setting was reduced to a wonky former-circle with bent, empty prongs. Did I want to keep that piece of garbage? No I did not. But I joked that I would keep it for my least-favourite relative to some day inherit from me. She kind of frowned at me like I shouldn't be making light of her very very serious profession, and she picked up the hunk of junk very gingerly with her little pinchers, and laid it very gently in her velvet-lined box. Because, you know, a sense of formality turns metals into precious metals worth thousands (and thousands) of dollars.

Fast forward another month. Sean picks up my new ring. Drops down to one knee, asks me to marry him all over again, you know, that kind of romantic junk, slipped it on my finger and it's lovely and perfect and very very sparkly. But in the bag is something else - it's the setting from my original ring. That twisted piece of metal. Somewhere in the city of Ottawa, there's a jeweler who believes I'm going to bequeath it unto the niece who displeases me most. And in the meantime, the ex-ring is living it big like a still-ring, sitting snugly in one of those fancy little boxes. The kind of box that will really fool someone someday into thinking I loved them.