cc image credit: The Ring by drocpsu, flickr
...and one very beautiful thing, very beautiful, very wonderful.
He had a ring, a golden ring, a precious ring.
--The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
Funny how an unfortunate series of events leads one to realize just how valued something is.
See, last weekend I lost my wedding band.
But let me start at the beginning.
I've never been a jewelry wearer.
Sure, as a kid I had an arrow-head pendant I wore in the summers of my adventures. Then there was that shark's-tooth pendant. Typical boy's talismans for running through the woods, tracking through streams/ditches in the neighborhood and the like.
In high-school I had an American Eagle pendant that had been cut out of U.S. Mint coinage with very skilled saw-work. It was hung on a chain that had a very cool and unique clasp. One end was like a cylinder with a rubber-like insert, the other was like a stud that inserted into the cylinder. One day while running between the school and the track field house it dislodged and dropped. I spend a long time searching for it, but never found it. Must be why that clasp-style remained unique.
I don't recall ever wearing jewelry of any kind past that point.
(Watches don't count...they are considered a utility tool in my book.)
I didn't buy a high-school graduation ring.
I didn't by a college graduation ring.
The only time after that point I was tempted was when I saw a Catholic friend who had a string-necklace. I think it was braided and at the bottom was a small square with a tiny cross. Couldn't have been any larger than 1/4 of a postage stamp. All in string or cloth.
What appealed to me was the simplicity it represented in blending faith and material.
I never asked about it, nor ever saw one like it again. It might have been a hand-made creation, but for some reason I didn't think so.
So when Lavie and I began to make our wedding plans, I was confronted with the real probability of wearing, not only jewelry, but a ring.
I supposed I could have gone through the ceremony and then set it aside after that. After all, a ring doesn't make you any more or less married than you are. Many married couples don't wear wedding bands, either by choice or circumstance. I got the symbolism and sociological reasons for wedding bands, but didn't really feel too swayed by either one.
However, Lavie lovingly convinced me to keep it on after we got married.
She worked hard to find a ring that was very light and not too "showy." In the end she found one that was gold, with a "nugget-like" design on two-thirds of the ring surface.
It wasn't "solid" meaning that if you turned it upside down, you could see the underside pattern the nuggets made. The nuggets were heaviest on the top but gradually thinned down the tapering sides to a smooth bottom one-third.
The work she put into finding me just the right ring touched me and I wanted to honor her efforts.
So I put it on.
This month makes it 16 years.
Because of the design of the ring and my fingers, it tends to rotate during the day until the nugget portion is downward and the thin, smooth portion is upward. So I've developed a habit of just twirling back in proper orientation with my thumb and pinkie. I do it almost without thought now.
I take it off when I am working on the vehicles, when my hands are deep inside a computer case, or when I was playing sports. In these moments I would slide it onto my split key-ring band for safe keeping.
At home I still take it off and don't wear it inside the house. Don't know why I do that, but it is my routine.
I have a small table of my own by the front door where my wallet, keys, BlackBerry, pager, cell-phone, Leatherman-tool, USB stick(s), pen(s) and spare change go. I always set my ring centered on top of my wallet where it stands out with the bright gold contrasting against the deep brown leather.
Come into the house...unload the gear.
Leave the house...gear up.
So this past Monday I was getting ready for work and "gearing up" and noticed my ring was gone.
I searched the table top and couldn't find it.
Then I searched the floor and couldn't find it.
I searched on my key-ring. Nope. Not there.
So I had to make do without it, a bit worried now.
All week long with greater dread I tore the house apart.
Moved furniture, overturned Alvis's nearby catch-baskets (for school books, papers, purse(s), etc.) scoured the grass and garden area by the front door on hands-and-knees thinking it might have fell from the table and bounced out the door without my noticing. Autopsied the vacuum bag with a gruesomeness that would make C.S.I. techs proud.
My precious was gone.
During the day at work I would catch myself spinning a non-existent ring with my thumb and pinkie.
Lavie was very supportive. Her father has lost several over the course of his marriage. I suspect he now has bought a bulk-supply from Wal-Mart which he keeps in a glass baby-food jar in the work-shed for just such occasions. Pop was supportive and helped look for a while when Lavie's parents came in for a visit.
But it was gone.
Alvis was pretty upset. She worked tireless for the first few days to help me search for it. It was she who encouraged me to rip into the vacuum bag (although she disappeared when it was time to do so).
I even looked around and discussed potential replacements with Lavie.
And I was left with a very strange and alien feeling.
The ring that I didn't want to wear, that I couldn't identify with, that I begrudgingly accepted onto my hand had actually become an integral part of my life.
I felt incomplete without it.
Not quite like Gollum, but I uncomfortably could relate a bit to his obsession with the One Ring.
Sure, it was just a hunk of (valuable) metal, but it suddenly was much, much more than I ever expected it to be.
Were family and friends and co-workers now noticing its absence and politely wondering about the significance of its absence from my finger?
Suddenly, it wasn't just a symbol for cougars to know to keep away from this man of Lavie and Alvis's. It wasn't a potential short-circuit device for computer work. It wasn't the source of a physical habit of finger twitching. It wasn't a nuisance.
It was our marriage made real.
It was Lavie physically with me when we were apart.
It was a golden pensieve soaking up sixteen years of magical marriage memories; good and bad, painful and blissful.
I didn't see that bit of wisdom coming.
So with the house ransacked several times over, I came to the realization that my precious was either in one of two places: inside the house, or not.
If it was not, it was likely gone. Never to be seen again. A loss that I was only beginning to feel the clouds of mourning building for.
If it was, there remained a slim margin of hope that it would be found and restored.
I was resigned.
And so this afternoon, almost a week after its loss, I changed into my "weekend-khakis" shorts and set about doing the day's weekend chores.
Wrapping up the labors, I had just completed putting the cleaning goods under the sink cabinets and stood back up, smoothing my shorts back down.
When I felt a small bump packed away in the very bottom of my pocket where the pocket-seams join into a point.
I almost didn't notice it.
I reached in and pulled out a lump of pocket-lint not unlike that found in most casual-wear pants pockets.
And buried in the lump of lint?
I stood there stunned looking at it, joyfully amazed and relieved.
All Things restored.
Lavie just smiled.