I remember the first time I saw that beautiful ring Sigel bought for me. He was on his knee asking me to marry him and my parents were protesting in their usual passive aggressive way by pretending nothing was going on in the other room. I knew they didn't approve I was just hurt by their reasoning. They wanted me to be a "good girl" but also to party, drink and be a girl gone wild college student. All I wanted was to wear this amazing ring and be this man's wife!
The ring was beautiful and delicate and looked like it belonged on my hand. One large diamond surrounded by three smaller ones on each side. It matched the diamond earrings he had bought me for Christmas that previous year.
I loved that ring. I washed it carefully using an old toothbrush that my grandmother had given me for that purpose, my mother unwilling even to look at the ring.
For almost a year I wore that ring night and day but the pressure of fighting my parents and the natural desire to be with the man I loved took it's toll and one day I made a decision that would change everything. I broke off our engagement and gave that ring back to him. He cried, he begged, he even threw it back at me but I persisted. Gently I placed it on the coffee table and left his apartment in tears feeling like my heart would never beat again.
A few days later he paid my father back for some bullshit phone bill my parents claimed he owed and we tried to get on with life. One day my mother decided she needed to feel better about herself and began to brag about how I was now free to be a college student since she had FINALLY managed to get me to spoil it between Sigel and myself. I tried to summon all the arguments I had used to justify why he wasn't the guy for me but one by one she shot them down, laughing that she had expertly set me to believe the silliness. What did it matter anyway? I was free to go to bars and have fun with new boyfriends. Forget that I STILL had a 10:30 curfew and wasn't allowed to go to parties with my friends...
I can't remember ever being so angry with my mother. I had knifed the man I loved and she had orchestrated the whole thing so that I could do something I wasn't even wanting to do, to be someone I couldn't have respected. I made a decision that day and I have never looked back.
When we made up, Sigel and I, he made it clear that he had pawned my beautiful ring to pay the bill my parents were so damn worried about. We tried to get it back but it was long gone. I tried to be happy that at least we were together and told myself that I didn't need anything more than the simple gold ring I wore now. I was successful in convincing myself that I didn't need pretty jewelry...and it was a good thing that I was so successful because for 20 years Sigel never bought me anything...not even costume jewelry. I watched my mother show off her lovely pretties my father bought her but I was content with more practical gifts. We didn't have any money to waste of frivolous things.
One day, after we had some positive cash flow my mother was showing Sigel some jewelry in a magazine and saying that I liked this and this...he looked up at her and said, "I don't buy her jewelry because she doesn't deserve it. The last time I bought her something she threw it back at me and I won't make that mistake again." My father actually cried that day because he knew he and my mom were responsible for the huge hurt that caused Sigel to believe I didn't deserve
pretty things but he patiently and with some profound anger in his voice, explained that you don't buy jewelry for your love because he/she deserves it but because you love them and want them to have it. To Sigel's everlasting credit he had never really thought about why he never bought me jewelry and it was a shock, to him, that he was so emotional. I was devastated, it confirmed my worst fear- that I wasn't worthy of pretty things, that somehow I was less than other women. Fatally flawed...
By this time we had Arch in our lives and he heard what had happened, surprisingly enough, from my own mother who never missed an opportunity to bad mouth Sigel. He was upset, worried and profoundly angry at Sigel. 'Course no one was angrier at Sigel than Sigel was at himself.
He made plans that year to buy me a ring to replace the one that he had pawned, even though he was scared to death that I was leaving him for Arch and would be giving it back once again. Self fulfilling prophecy is a bitch!
It took him two years to finally find and buy the ring that he felt was worthy of the love and commitment I had given him for over 20 years. He wanted a showy, flashy, huge thing but the salesperson was a friend of mine and knew me better. She steered him to ask my girls to help him pick out the ring and they chose a simple three diamonds set in platinum on a gold band. One diamond for the past, one for the present, and one for the future on a golden ring of eternity. Yes, my oldest daughter is quite the romantic!
Then he bought the necklace that he had been planning on buying when we were still dating, a heart outlined in diamonds to complete the set he had been working on way back then. So I had earrings, necklace and ring- the earrings from him, the necklace from the girls and the ring to end the pain of believing I was not worthy of nice things.
He presented ring and necklace to me in Arch's home as an apology to him as well. That was the day that we, Arch and I, truly believed that Sigel had accepted our invitation to join us without fear.
One ring broke our hearts and one ring mended every hurt we had ever done to each other. It's such a simple ring to mean so much.