Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ring of Remembering

It was my dad's, purchased by my mother. When they divorced, my mom asked for it back, held onto it, thinking I might want it when I was older.

It was a gift on my sixteenth birthday.

I'm not one for jewelry: I don't wear anything around my neck or wrists—even watches feel uncomfortable and are not found on me often. And, before my Sweet 16, I never wore a ring.

This one is beautiful. Made with both yellow and white gold, a thin, shining white strip in the middle, somewhat sunken; the yellow gold around the edges, a vine-like pattern etched in each. It is both simple and complex, and fully elegant. It's one of the nicest man's rings I've ever seen.

When I received the ring, I knew I couldn't wear it on my left hand. I wasn't married. At 16, I didn't even have a girlfriend. And so it went on my third finger, next to my pinkie, on my right hand. When classmates noticed it, I joked that I was, indeed, married. It was an arranged marriage, to a German woman, who was still living overseas with her family, until I was able to move out of my parents' house and own a home of my own.

Germans, I told my friends, wore wedding bands on their right hands.

I had to have the ring resized because my dad had big fingers, whereas mine were more like my mother's. I had it sized not too small, so that I still had room, should my fingers grow, but not to large, so that it couldn't slip off. The jeweler who did the work was an expert, and there is no telling where the ring was cut.

Over time, as my finger grew used to the band, the skin made a mark, the summer sun left a tan line. I grew so used to wearing the ring that when it was off my hand, I noticed. And so, if I needed to remember anything, I would slip the ring off my right hand and place it on my left. It would feel so foreign on my real wedding finger that I would always remember whatever it was I needed to remember.

It was better than tying a string around a digit. And, when used this way, I called it my Ring of Remembering.

When I was engaged (for real, this time), my fiancée and I chose her wedding band with both yellow and white gold. Not a perfect match, but one that showed continuity. My ring was the only piece of jewelry that I felt comfortable with, and we were happy to keep it on my hand.

But, from the moment where we were officially engaged, I removed my ring, gave it to her, and told her to keep it safe, until the wedding, when I would wear it again, as it was meant to be worn.

The wedding was perfect. The day that threatened to bring torrential rain and thunder was sunny and beautiful. Our ring-bearer, only three at the time, carried our rings with style. Vows were made, poetry read, music played. I slipped the new ring on my bride's finger, she slipped my old ring on mine. We kissed, and the ceremony was over.

And, all through the wedding photos, through the receiving line, through the dinner and speeches, through the entire evening, I had the strangest feeling that I had forgotten something.

But I hadn't forgotten anything. It was the power of the Ring of Remembering.

Nowadays, when I need to remember something important, the ring changes fingers, goes from the left hand to the right.

And I remember.

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