It’s always dark in here, but I don’t mind anymore, I’ve been here for almost a year now. It wasn’t always like this, I was right in the middle of things, things were bright. Out in the sun, tapping along on the car window to a song on the radio, riding the handles of a shopping cart while it got filled with family essentials, wrapped tightly around the soft, fragile skin of another as we walked from place to place. But not now, now it’s dark, I lie next to other things rarely touched, a passport with only one stamp, a few SD Cards filled with photos of his new party of three, a wrist band from a hospital that I can only guess was saved to remind him of where he had been, what he had become.
It is suddenly blindingly bright….
“After marriage, the ring is worn on the hand it had been placed on during the ceremony. By wearing rings on the fourth finger of their left hands, a married couple symbolically declares their eternal love for each other.” Wikipedia
… It’s like a bomb went off here, like a scene from The Hurt Locker… Only in this strange land my little insurgents use I.L.P.S.D.’s ( Improvised Littlest Pet Shop Devices), the toy carnage is everywhere. It is a ritual, the day after the kids return to their Mother’s I work on rebuilding the order of our tiny space, it’s kind of like stacking building blocks, you know that they are just going to be knocked over again, but that joy they get from knocking them over is worth the mess! Everything has a place, it may not be neat or make sense to an outsider, but in our little world we know where things go.
On this day one of Daddy’s many headphone sets made it into the fray, I’m not sure when, I do know that Bing likes to get his red and yellow plastic V-Tech “computer” out and do “his podcast”, headphones are a must for this process. Headphones live in the drawer on an antique table my uncle gave me, one of the few furniture items I kept after my divorce. It’s late afternoon, the sun is streaming in the window, warming the room, distracting from the truth that it is actually cold outside. I pull the drawer open and the sunlight instantly caught a grasp of something silver, glistening right beside my passport.
It was like a reveal in a bad movie: Long shot – man stands among scattered toys in a small apartment that is dark except for sunlight streaming through a window. He crosses the room to a long wooden table with three drawers. Medium shot – Man pulls drawer open. Mans P.O.V. – the dark drawer opens slowly, pulling into a band of sunlight, an object glistens brightly beneath the various items. Close-up – Man reacts to item. Medium shot – Man investigates and removes item. Close-Up – a small silver mens wedding band between mans fingers.
I had removed this ring from my finger long ago, before the divorce process had ever begun, I stopped wearing it when I realized what was going on. It never made it to the hospital with me, it was never in a court room, it never saw children exchanged from one parent to the other. When I took it off, I put it in my TMJ Splint case (Which I never wear, but I am supposed too), it sat in there along with the ring I had given to my wife, and she had earlier returned to me. The ring and I didn’t live together for a long time, and by the time I could get inside to it, it was gone? My Ex had taken it for “safe keeping”… She didn’t care much about the owner of the hand it was meant to encircle, I’m not sure why she cared about it, but apparently she did. When I inquired, she returned it to me in a plain white, business size envelope, totally void of any markings and sealed. I folded it, and put into my extra briefcase, which as I lived on my sisters couch, had turned into kind of a portable storage device, holding various items from the life now gone. When I moved into my NoHo place, it ended up in the drawer with a few other items I don’t regularly look at.
Now I swear, this all took pace in my head over the coarse of maybe a minute. I picked it up, I remembered it’s feel, it’s weight. I remembered how proud I was to wear it. I have often heard of marriage described as a burden, that was not how I saw it… That ring made me feel intense emotions. She’ll never admit it, but my Ex knew how important it was too me… She knew everything about me, I know because she used it all against me at the end. Every confession, every fear and emotion shared between partners, turned into the weapon aimed at my destruction. I never took it off… never, i would rather swim with fist closed, wear a glove over it, whatever I could do to maintain normal activities and not remove it. OK, never is a lie, I just remembered, it was our first Thanksgiving after Lucy was born (Which means she was only a few weeks old) we decided that going to a restaurant for dinner would be easier than cooking, So my Ex, Lucy, My Mom and I went to The Tallyrand (They have great turkey!), as we sat having dinner, new baby in that little cradle carrier sleeping on and off, we talked and enjoyed ourselves. I went to make a point, a flung my hand up, off flew this ring I now hold between these aged fingers. It ended up under the neighboring table, the people seated there returned it and we laughed. Seven years later, here stand the ring and I at a crossroads.
What to do with it raced through my mind? I could never give it to my kids, this ring is not the symbol it was intended to be. tainted by the actions of the past two years, the fact that “eternal love” had ended with an abruptness that mocked the entire concept and that now the one it was supposed to bond with wears the ring of someone else. I could sell it, but that seems wrong for a few reasons. One, I would never get what is truly worth… And I don’t mean the $1100.00 or so an ounce it is going for on the market, I mean the priceless act of dedicating yourself to someone for the rest of your life, no amount counted out in large bills could equal it’s value. Two, Even melted down and reformed, it has a history, a legacy, and it’s not a positive one. I could not guarantee that whatever form it took would not result it’s owner having an equal fate… I don’t have it in me to bring destruction onto others. Maybe it, sitting silently, worn and scratched from it’s tour of duty, entombed it that drawer has actually slowed my progress?
Will this object mean anything other than pain again? Could these hands 30 years older, lift this tiny loop, and feel something good, warm? It doesn’t take up much room, it won’t require helping hands to lift when I move, it is not absorbing resources… And yet, it feels like it weighs thousands of pounds. It is crushing me.
I can’t throw it in the trash, people rummage, they rake over it… If found it would be considered a treasure, and it is not. I don’t know why, but this was an issue of great importance, and had to be dealt with immediately. We are still within that minute of seeing that shine.
It is burning my hand.. It is burning my heart.
I turned my back to the light, the warmth beaming through the window. I walked to the bathroom, dropped it into the toilet and flushed… It was the only thing I could think to do. I have told Lucy, and she has lectured me in return, all things flushed end up in the sea… I don’t know if that is in fact true, but I want to believe it. I know this is not a flawless solution, it could still be in the pipe, or in a drain pipe, or a treatment facility… Or really in the ocean? It was just the only thing I could think of in the moment. And there is unintentional symbolism, it went the same way as our love, our marriage, our past. Down a drain, without ceremony, without care… A swirl of a married life less lived.