"Darlin' come into my arms; embrace this wretch, yes, kiss this fool,"
~ Jason Tyler Burton, Wedding Ring
I miss Colorado. Sometimes I find myself following some old synaptic path around my hometown in Kentucky and I remember that we spent five years at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. I don't miss the toxic occupational environment I endured. I don't miss the financial uncertainty that squeezed my heart every day that we were there. But I miss Colorado. I miss the friends we made. I miss the mountains. I miss the trails I plied on my mountain bike. Kentucky isn't the same even if it is the place where I can feel rooted and at peace.
The last few days leading up to our big move back east were a rush and full of bittersweet moments. It was cold. Winter was settling hard on the Denver area. And when I went out scrounging for boxes to pack all our crap in on my bike I let the bitter dry cold scrape the spiritual sores I suffered in the same way Job sat in the ash heap with a shard of pottery and scraped his deviled lesions.
I rode around Golden and Arvada looking for cast off boxes. I dumpster-dived behind the two grocery stores we frequented. I absconded with a whole pile of boxes someone had cast upon the curb in hopes they would be picked up. I obliged.
I would pull up on my cargo bike, tuck my gloves in a coat pocket, whip out my handy pocket knife, slice the tape, and break down each box. I am old hat at this. Years of working in factories and other places with heavy box traffic has taught me the efficiency of cardboard breakdown. I'd fold them all up, strap them in my cargo bags, slip my gloves back on, and head off for my next prospective box habitat.
Back at our soon-to-be former home I peeled off my layers and rubbed pleasantly chilled appendages. I noticed then that my wedding ring was missing from my left hand. I distinctly remembered that I'd had it on while out box hunting. I turned up and squeezed out my gloves. Nothing. I searched the bike. Nothing. I looked all over the house around where I had taken off my gloves, deposited my house keys, and had deposited other spoils of my searches for the day. Nothing.
When Mandy got home I apologized. It had been an honest mistake. My fingers had been numb from the cold and I probably just didn't feel when it slipped off with my glove and hit the ground. Knowing I had covered a lot of ground I was fairly certain there was little point in going back to look for it.
She told me it was okay. I complained that I should have gotten that wedding band tattoo I'd talked about for years. It's okay, she reiterated and kissed me. I knew it wasn't okay. She didn't want to move back to Kentucky. She was giving up everything for me. And I went and lost my wedding ring. I had...have...a history of...misplacing...my ring. Being sensory defensive I end up taking it off more than I should.
More than once in the past fifteen years I have "lost" my ring. It was different that day. I knew it was gone for good. Not only was it hopeless to try and retrace my steps but within a week we'd be twelve hundred miles away with no looking back.
Mandy was used to me not wearing my ring. She never really liked it that I would take it off, but she understands my aversion to watches, rings, and jewelry in general. In the chaos of the move we didn't get right around to replacing the ring. But after a year or so we talked about it. A couple of months after we decided to replace it she came home with one for me one day. It didn't fit so she took it back.
I felt bad. That original ring had some sentimental value. We bought our rings cheap. In fact, I think my ring was free after we paid for hers, or greatly reduced in price. Our rings, like the rest of the wedding, had been economical. There was a sense of pride that we hadn't wasted money in the ceremony or the traditional accoutrements or matrimony.
"I found your wedding ring," she told me over the phone one day while I was at work.
When I got home that day she had my ring.
"Where did you find this?" I slipped it on my ring finger. It felt alien.
"I was getting ready to throw out some boxes and it fell out of one." She grinned.
It's just a silly circle of metal. I know the symbolic nature of the ring. I know what it's supposed to represent. But the practical side of me says the ring doesn't mean so much as our culture says it does. What's important to me is that it's important to my wife. What it means to me is something bigger than just a wedding ring. That ring that my wife put on my finger and said "with this ring" came back to me when I thought it was lost forever. It shouldn't have survived the chaos of our move. It truly should have fallen out on the street somewhere in Colorado.
"I like seeing you wear your ring," Mandy told me on Saturday. I had taken it off of my keyring where I'd been keeping it and had slipped it on just the day before. She rubbed the ring as she held my hand. It made me feel good to know wearing it makes her happy. I need to wear it more often.
Of course right now as I write this I have no idea where it is. She said she thought she saw it on the kitchen counter. Maybe one of these days I'll get the tattoo.