Today I was rummaging through my tiny jewelry box and found a little ring I’d nearly forgotten about. I’d dragged it back and forth between Brazil and the US many times without even being aware it.
It’s an ornate little silver ring with an oval-shaped blue stone in a raised setting. It’s quite a pretty ring, really, and as I looked at it—nearly black with tarnish—I wondered why I hadn’t worn it all these years.
Then I felt a little stab in my heart. And I remembered the day I got the ring. And then, at the same moment, I recalled an event many years before the ring, when I was playing piano in a trio at a fancy hotel in Boston. There were couples dancing on the floor, and I could hear a young woman, pretty and blonde, as she and her partner danced by me, saying to him: “Stop looking around. Look at me. Pay attention to me. Don’t look at the other women!” She seemed really distraught, but was obviously trying to control herself and “lay down the law” to the young man with her, who looked confused and slightly irritated.
I’d felt a stab in my heart that night, too.
Now I’ll tell you about the ring. I was in my fourth marriage, and not happy at all with myself, my husband, or my marriage. I felt overlooked, ignored, and worthless much of the time. I wanted so badly to have a good marriage, and I felt that this was my last chance after three previous failed attempts. In my desperation, I tried to force my husband to pay attention to me, just like the hapless blonde dancer. I made him go with me to an open jewelry stand in the train station and buy me an inexpensive ring. He went along reluctantly, his mind on other things. When we got to the stand, I couldn’t find any ring I really wanted—they didn’t have one with a green stone—so I settled. I settled for the little silver pinky ring with the blue stone, just as I’d settled for a marriage that wasn’t working and never would.
Sometimes I wonder what happened to the pretty blond girl and her partner, or husband. I can’t imagine that it could have turned out well, and my heart goes out to both of them. Her for her neediness, him for feeling cornered.
I forgive myself for being so needy back then, and I forgive my ex-husband for not understanding. I didn’t understand then that everything I really wanted and needed was in my own thoughts, dreams, and feelings, and not in other people’s actions.
So I polished the little ring with the blue stone, and now I’m happily wearing it on my pinky finger.