For Lucy, forever ago**:
Yesterday I found the ring.
The ring I lost three years ago. The one you gave me because February. The one you brought back from the desert to turn my finger green.
I remember the day it disappeared. I was changing and in a hurry when it flew off my thumb and was swallowed up by some rift in time and space. I scoured my bedroom for months afterwards. I rearranged the furniture; ran my fingers across every square inch of floorboard and molding. I never found it. I assumed it was some cosmic sign quietly telling me “Enough”. I was always losing totems back then. Gifts with emotional significance would go missing when my relationships had reached a state of such discord that there was no chance of recovery. Rings and necklaces, clothing. Even pets.
As somebody who has historically been terrible at letting go, these losses were bittersweet. An involuntary release is still a release. There was momentary panic then relief in the missing. Relief in the acceptance of the thing and its absence. The sweatshirt lost after a night downtown. The charm that slipped off my neck and down the bathroom drain. The string around my wrist that frayed and broke. These small goodbyes like mile markers; like debris torn from moving vehicles.
It was a cheap mood ring from some tourist trap in Arizona, the colored band perpetually declaring I felt romantic or cold. I loved it. I wore it faithfully until the morning I woke up with a crippling hangover and no recollection of how I’d made it to my house, let alone my bed. My finger was battered and swollen, blood crusting around the ring’s sharp metal edge. I still have the shiny knot of scar tissue in my finger. It was the month after we broke up and we hadn’t spoken in a week, but you texted me that morning. Said “Hello b”. Said “I miss you”.
After that I wore the ring on a chain around my neck. You made fun of me. Called me Frodo and asked me about Mordor. Called it My Precious, japed me about my “quest for love”. Asked me why. Constantly why, and I didn’t have an answer but I liked the way that chain slipped through my fingers like a knockoff rosary. I liked to twist that ring around and around when I was thinking, or anxious, or bored; liked to trace it across my lower lip while I wrote 122 love poems. I had been living in Portland for 10 months when the chain broke. I was sad and small, and it fit loosely on my thumb so I bent the band to feel more secure. It was there one day and then it wasn’t.
And now it’s back.
It’s hardly recognizable anymore. From the mutable color constantly shifting to tell you how I felt, to glossy black, to mottled patches of sick greens and yellows. When the paint chipped clean it was a brassy polish which rubbed into brighter silver. Now that shine is wearing away, the color below something soft and golden. We are getting closer to the heart of the thing.
Yesterday you texted me to say you are happy. Sitting across from the girl at the bar she watches me twist the ring around my thumb. She asks me what it means to me and I laugh, overwhelmed by the answers I’ve always used before. I used to say “It is a constant reminder that somebody loves me, even at my least lovable.” but this is not that story anymore. So I tell her it’s a beautiful metaphor; the evolution of every me. It's becoming more true, layer by layer. The metamorphosis of everything precious.
I am getting closer to the heart of the thing.
**This is a nod to Bon Iver, who is incredible and who you should definitely check out if you’re unfamiliar