The ring John gave me for our first year anniversary: it’s a beautiful wide hammered silver band with a big red-gold rimmed orange stone on it the wide way, the oval stone going across the finger instead of along the finger. It’s pretty extraordinary with both the gold and the silver and the orange hue of the stone.
I distinctly remember: when he gave it to me I wanted it to be an engagement ring. I felt like I deserved one for having trudged through the relationship for a whole year. We were lying on the bed, post-dinner, post-sex, and he pulled out the little bag that held it. I thought it was gorgeous, but it wasn’t accompanied by a promise for the future, a commitment of any kind.
I needed the ring to mean something. It couldn’t just be a ring, a pretty nice ring, a gift, a token of appreciation. It had to mean something about the future and if it didn’t then it was meaningless. I started crying, sobbing quietly into the sheets, a little embarrassed about how I felt, angry about how I felt so vulnerable and needy. I was crying into the pillow, feeling ungrateful like once when I was a kid and my dad bought me an art supply set and I started crying because I was disappointed because I wanted a police set with hand-cuffs a baton and a shiny badge, and I felt ashamed for crying and for being disappointed. I felt bad.
Lying there next to my boyfriend of a year, I felt bad, I felt ashamed for needing a future with this man, felt hurt because he couldn’t and wouldn’t give it and felt horrible for being ungrateful for the pretty ring, which I wanted to throw right in his face because he said it didn’t mean anything in particular. There was no way he could win, poor guy; there was probably nothing really he could have done or said or bought. My need for reassurance was bigger than anything that could be bought or said or done.
He wanted to please me, wanted a nice evening with dinner, sex, gifts, sleep, more sex, and above all no drama. I found his predictability utterly boring and I still I needed a predictable promise for the future, which he was incapable of giving. He did eventually want to get remarried, but he thought it appropriate to finalize his divorce before he got engaged again. I failed to see his point. I didn’t think that had anything to do with it. It had been 12 months and I had to have my ring, or else.
Or else what? Or else I would turn into an unreasonable fury of a girlfriend.
He begged me to be patient with him, and I tried I really did, tried my best. He implored me to trust his motives that he would do the right thing, ask me to marry him, when he felt like he had solid ground under his feet. I wasn’t solid, I was liquid, and I couldn’t wait; flowing down, down the path of least resistance to establish equilibrium.