I didn’t wear much jewelry growing up. I was never rebellious enough for the single earring, punk rock enough for the lip ring or jock enough for a class ring. To be honest, I was always a bit afraid of shinny menswear. The first piece of jewelry I owned that didn’t serve a function (i.e. a watch) was my wedding ring. I remember trying it on with the ring lady before our ceremony and thinking it felt cumbersome. I had no idea how it was supposed to fit or feel. Weeks into our marriage I found myself playing with the ring all the time, and remembered that playing with it was supposed to make me remember the commitment I made to Hailey on June 12, 2005. But that only lasted for weeks (the non-stop spinning of it, not the commitment part!). Within months the ring melded into my finger and I only noticed it when doing something that pushed the ring against my hand in an uncomfortable way.
I lost it once at a youth group night where we mimicked the American Gladiator t.v. show and played games in a giant tub of goo. It must have fallen off as I was tackled by adolescent boys with a gross amount of energy. Luckily, at about 2 a.m. it was found during the draining of said goo. Needless to say, since the goo incident, I have been pretty good about taking my ring off when there is a chance it might make a run for it.
I take it off when I ride my bike, when I go in the pool, when I surf, play a hand drum or make pizza dough. To tell you the truth, it may be off more than on these days. A few days ago I ran down to the beach with my surfboard under my arm. I was looking at the waves and noticed it: there was my wedding ring; I forgot to take it off. Looking around, without anywhere to stash it I decided to put it in the velcro pocket in my leash (my car was three blocks away, and the key was in my wetsuit…way too much effort).
After a few hours in the water I came back to the car. Being the responsible husband that I am, I pulled the ring out of the pocket right away and stuck it on my wet shriveled hand. With a towel wrapped around my waste, I pulled off my wetsuit and grabbed my pants from the trunk. I lifted a leg to put on my pants and felt a sharp pain on the bottom of the middle toe of my right foot. Thinking I had stepped on glass I kicked up my foot to see a bee digging its stinger into a painful place. I whipped at the bee with my pants, knocking it off my foot and fell to a sitting position grimacing in pain. Immediately I fell to the ground and sought to pull out the stinger (did I mention I was wearing nothing but a towel?). As I sat, two cars drove by and I heard the sound of a small piece of metal hitting the ground. I looked up to make sure I had not knocked my keys from the roof of the car and went back to my foot. Five minutes later I got in the car, toe throbbing and put the keys in the ignition. As I grabbed the steering wheel with my left hand it hit me; my wedding ring was no longer on my finger. When I flicked my pants at the bee I whipped my hands straight up in the air and flung my ring into an asphalt abyss. The ting of metal I had heard earlier was the ring off in the distance. The search was on.
I looked for nearly an hour. Nothing. I checked under the car three times. I crossed the street, searched the sidewalk and scoured the nearby grass. Nothing. I was nervous. I knew it was only a material possession and that Hailey would understand (though I was not sure how I would explain it) but it was the one piece of important jewelry I had ever owned.
Finally I looked up in the driveway of the house I parked next to and it was as if the sun was shining right in the perfect place, there it was! I drove away relieved that I didn’t have to tell my wife about losing my wedding ring less than a week after celebrating our fifth anniversary. As I gripped the steering wheel with my left hand I reached over with my right and began to spin the ring like it was brand new all over again. Immediately memories began to flood my very being.
I remembered being seventeen and offering Hailey my sweatshirt when we were at a friend’s baptism at the beach before we were really an item. The nerve racking adolescent game of oh I think she likes me began that night. I thought of dating in high school and the awkwardness that came with trying to discover who each of us was amidst deciphering what was going through the other’s head and heart (still trying to figure out what was more awkward; learning about Hailey or reconciling the fact that my future father-in-law was filming me when I picked her up for our first date—gotta find that VHS…). Our college years hit me and I recalled the time we broke up, standing on cliffs over looking the ocean—we agreed to not talk to each other for a week, I didn’t last a day. We continued dating, and I continued to learn that I was a better man with this woman by my side. Then she went away to college. Every time I dropped her off at a terminal at the airport I had to hide in the bathroom after crying to gather myself, because I was too insecure to show the rest of the world how emotional I really was. Eventually we went to a ring store and my aforementioned unfamiliarness with jewelry became painfully obvious.
More than a year later I actually listened to my grandmother’s wisdom and bought a ring. She always reminded me of how special Hailey is and how lucky I was. To this day (at 93), grandma gingerly reiterates that Hailey is way out of my league. Our wedding was a lovely collision of our lives. It was one of the few moments were everything came to a screeching halt, slowing down as if it were a dramatic scene in a movie. We danced, we celebrated, laughed and we played, affirming that life really was better when we were together.
Five years of marriage has had plenty of speed bumps, but really the pace has been way too fast. The sensation of everything slowing down and feeling just right has not occurred near enough…and then that dang bee showed up, stung my foot and forced me to toss my ring. While I limped around on the search I cursed the bee that left me in pain and ringless. Then I saw it and the world around me froze. The curses quickly turned to odd praises about the recently deceased bee. The ring may symbolize the commitment Hailey and I made to one another in front of God and plenty of witnesses, but it does so much more. With every spin, even if just for a moment, things slow down and I am reminded that love isn’t meant to just melt away into its surroundings.