Pretty things

December 2012: One of the low points in my life. I had lost my job earlier that year and now it was almost Christmas.

I wanted to hide away from the world. Not only because of the embarrassment and shame that accompany hard times, but mostly to focus on getting my life back together.

I took my daughters to the Family Dollar Store to buy some packing tape. Possibly the most depressing store ever.

I found two kinds of tape. One was $2.99 and the other was $1. I joked to the clerk that I was too poor to afford the $2.99 roll as I paid for the $1 roll. After we left, my older daughter (who was only 10 at the time) said “Mommy! Don’t tell people we’re poor!” Clearly, I had embarrassed her.

A week earlier, I created an eBay account. Being out of work meant I had to start selling some personal things. In just one week I had sold two items. I was excited, until I got to the post office and spent $18 for postage on an item I had only charged a $3 shipping fee for. Live and learn.

As soon as I got home, I immediately readjusted the shipping fees on all my other items.

Which brings me to the rings. Years before, my ex-husband had given me a beautiful 3-stone engagement ring. One large center diamond, representing the present and two smaller diamonds on either side, representing the past and the future.  The other was a beautiful custom made engagement ring given to me by a man I dated for 4 years after my divorce. A beautiful 1.5 carat cushion cut diamond, surrounded by beaded diamonds and a diamond wedding band to match.  It was beautiful. I tried to return it to him after we broke up, but he insisted I keep it. Both gifts from men who had loved me at one time. Now gone, but with memories still attached.

I never imagined I would have to sell such things, but I never imagined a lot of the hard times I’ve faced in my life. Sometimes things just happen. Reluctantly, I posted both sets on eBay. The custom set alone was worth well over $5,500, but I asked for less than half.

Being new to eBay, I assumed no one would buy them, so I took them to a local jewelry store. The appraiser took all four rings (two diamond engagement rings, and two bands) to a room at the back of the store. A few minutes later, he returned and offered me only a small fraction of what they were worth. I knew his offer was unfair, but before I could think, I heard myself say “Okay.”

As I left, I suddenly felt sad. It wasn’t that I would miss the rings (I hadn’t worn them in years), but that each one had a string of memories attached. Like the warm spring day when my ex-husband got down on one knee to propose, and all I could think about was how corny he looked. (Maybe I’m just an awful person.)

Or the December day, when I was pregnant with my first daughter, and lost my engagement ring. We had been Christmas shopping all day. I never realized it was gone until after we’d returned home. We spent hours that evening, driving from store to store, retracing every step and scanning the parking lots, searching but never found it. The next day, on Christmas eve morning, I took the dog outside for a walk.  And there in the grass, reflecting in the morning sun was my ring.

Or the day my ex-boyfriend threw the ring box at me and said “Here. I got you something.”  A gorgeous engagement ring, custom made just for me and how he threw the box at me. So terribly romantic. Anyway…

I had always imagined passing my rings and all my other pretty things, down to my daughters. Not that I owned anything spectacular, but each piece had meaning.

And now they were gone. And that made me sad.

But when you’ve been unemployed for 6 months, and it’s 3 weeks before Christmas, diamond rings don’t seem all that important anymore. Not to me, anyway. I used the cash the man at the jewelry store had given me to buy Christmas presents for my girls.

Gifts for two deserving little girls who still believed in and were expecting the arrival of Santa? Or a few rings?

To me, the answer was obvious.

To most people, a ring is a symbol of everlasting love. But to me, a ring is simply another pretty thing that you can wear. Perhaps nothing more.

I’d give up a hundred rings to have just one person who won’t abandon me when things get tough. Someone who will always be there to support me, no matter what.

No material object – and certainly not any kind of ring – can ever replace that.

I’d rather have a man strong enough to hold me when it feels like my entire world is falling apart. Or when it feels like I’m falling apart.

I’d rather have the love and support of my best friend and lover holding my hand, every single day. Because rings and objects don’t mean anything when you’re alone.

In the end, all that really matters is having the people who you love, standing beside you.

And no piece of jewelry could ever be worth more than that.

 

Photo credit: the-collectiveonline.com

Photo credit: the-collectiveonline.com

 

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When Love Is (Or Isn’t) Enough

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  The story of a couple who meet, fall in love and break up.

Their break up is so painful they both decide to undergo a procedure that erases all memory of their relationship.

After their memories are erased they become strangers and go their separate ways.

But they meet a second time and are instantly attracted to each other, as if meeting for the first time.

The movie ends there, suggesting they fall in love all over again, despite their past.

The whole thing- falling in love, meeting a second time and being given a second chance- is appealing on many levels.

Most people have one person they wish they could have a second chance with.

A past relationship that was electric and exciting and passionate that you wish you could do it all over again. Even if there was some bad mixed in with all the good.

No relationship is ever perfect and every couple encounters problems and misunderstandings. People change, circumstances change and feelings can change, too.

And a history that took months and years to build up, can all fall apart as easily as a sand castle being washed away by the tide.

You might try and save it.  You grab your bucket and add more sand.

And things are good again. Maybe not as perfect as before but there’s still a lot of good left so you both hold on.

But the issues and the tide will reappear again. And unless both people are trying to fix it, you realize you can’t do it alone.

The whole situation can seem impossible and overwhelming. And sometimes it’s easier to walk away when you feel hurt, even if you love someone.

But after some time has passed, you start to miss the other person and maybe even wish you had a second chance.

But what if all your bad memories-  every fight, every lie, every hurtful word ever spoken – were all erased.

What if you met again as strangers without a past.

Maybe this time you would both be different.

Maybe if enough time had passed and if your experiences had changed, maybe you’d both be better.

Maybe. Or maybe erasing the past wouldn’t make any difference at all.

Don’t mistakes teach us what not to do next time and how to be better?

How would we know what to do differently if there were no past to learn from?

Maybe a second chance with someone wouldn’t be wonderful at all.

To go through the hurt and pain of breaking up all over again? No one would ever choose that.

And what if the other person walked away without a fight. Or they treated you badly the first time?

If they really loved you, wouldn’t they have tried harder and treated you better? Would it be any different the second time?

It takes mutual love and respect and the effort from two people, to build the relationship and to protect the sand castle.

These are all just words and words don’t really mean anything unless the person who they are meant for actually reads them.

And even if they read them, there are no magic words that can change the past and make things work. Not even “I love you,” not even “I’m sorry,” and not even “I really wish we could start over again.”

Love isn’t always enough and some things were just not meant to be.

What does matter is finding someone who won’t give up on you. Even after you’ve messed up.

Someone who is as passionate about you as you are about them.

Otherwise, all you end up with is a pile of useless fucking sand.

“If you love something, let it go.

If you don’t love something, definitely let it go. Basically, just drop everything, who cares.” – B.J. Novak

 

I Love You, by Banksy, canvas print.

I Love You, by Banksy, canvas print.

 

   http://www.imdb.com/media/rm2954530560/tt0338013