In 1996, I went to the Auburn Opelika Mall with my cousin Margaret to…honestly, I have no clue what we were doing there – probably getting more holes put in our ears. We went through a ‘more holes in our ears’ phase in college. We’d seen Reality Bites too many times.
I do remember that Billy tagged along and we were just starting to become friends. I saw a fake engagement ring in a vending machine and he loaned me a quarter to buy it. I remarked that when I got proposed to I wanted a ring just like that one – never thinking I would actually be interested in this particular boy at some point and it would probably be an inappropriate thing to say.I kept up with that twenty five cent ring all through college. I lost it right around the time that Billy replaced it with a real ring.
When he proposed to me we were broken up and had been for half a year. Heck, both of us had been on dates with other people the week before. The circumstances surrounding our engagement were so filled with drama and angst that I’ve always been incredibly sentimental about my engagement ring.
Here I am on New Years Eve in 1999, holding the ring, moments after he proposed.
Friday night we spent the night in Salina, Kansas on our way to Colorado and I took my rings off to sleep, like I always do. The next morning I didn’t want to put them on because I knew I’d be wearing gloves and I thought they’d bother me. I zipped the rings into the front pocket of my suitcase…which, in retrospect, was a monumentally asinine thing to do...assuming the suitcase would go into the car and not come out again until we hit Colorado.
Unbeknownst to me Billy unloaded my suitcase twice on the road. Once in Colby, Kansas and once around Vail, Colorado.
When he brought our luggage to the room Saturday night the front compartment was unzipped and my engagement ring was gone.
Gone as in gone gone. Gone as in no how, no way will I ever see it again. Gone as in, it’s not just going to turn up. It’s somewhere between this hotel room in Aspen and Kansas. G-O-N-E gone. It wasn’t stolen. It wasn’t misplaced. It was lost.
And, y’all, I know it was just a ring. In the end it will be dross like everything else but it was MY dross. It was OUR dross. And I feel like a piece of our history is gone.
I feel like a piece of the young couple we were is gone.
I loved that ring.
Dear Whoever Finds My Engagement Ring,
I hope that ring blesses your socks off. I hope you look down in that gas station parking lot and see it sparkling amongst the pebbles and pick it up and wonder where it came from.
I hope you bring it home and show it to people and it becomes a story in your family for years. ‘Remember how I found that diamond ring in the parking lot?’
I hope you bring it to church or the bingo hall or the the coffeehouse and tell people what you found.
I hope you use it to do something magical.
I hope it becomes part of an awesome story.
Because it was my awesome story for fifteen years.
So on this New Year’s Eve in 2014 I remember that New Year’s Eve in 1999 where he dropped down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. And yes, the ring was awesome. And yes, I feel sick about not being able to pass it down to Stella.
But we all know it’s not a ring that makes a marriage. And, ya know what? We’re still us.
Just with one less ring.