A man winked at me at the library a few weeks ago.
But that isn't really the beginning of this story.
I knew that I wanted to marry Devin approximately five minutes after I met him. When I knew for sure that we were going to be married, my friend Al printed off pages and pages of rings, wedding and engagement, and I went through and circled the ones I really liked, exed out the ones I couldn't stand, and so gave her a feeling for what I wanted. And I really only wanted one ring. One very simple ring that I could wear first as an engagement ring, and then as my wedding ring.
Devin called Al up and asked her if she would help him find a ring that I would like. They found the perfect one. As a 17 or so year old girl at a church activity we had made wedding cans, where we put all our hopes and dreams and plans for our ideal wedding into a can, sealed it, and never opened it until we were engaged. When I opened mine after Devin proposed, I found inside a picture cut from a magazine that was the mirror image of the ring he had given me.
It was a very simple ring, just a band with a string of small diamonds running across the top, inlaid into the band. I was very particular about not ever having a diamond scratch any future babies I might have. The bad news is that Devin proposed in August, and so when I went to have my finger sized (so Al would know what size to tell Devin to get - we were all so sneaky sneaky behind everyone's backs) my finger was summer-plump. Yeah, I don't know if that is a medical issue for most people, but my fingers (apparently) swell considerably in the summer.
And so, I quickly learned that I had to take my ring off in the fall, when it got cold, go without it all winter, and could only put it back on in the spring when it began to warm up again. Because if I tried to wear it through the winter it would fall off at random times: while trying to eat dinner at a restaurant (I had to crawl under the table), while waving goodbye to friends, while doing anything that involved moving my left hand. Which, I use considerably less than my right but is still in fairly frequent motion.
This system of wearing it only in the summer worked great for me, and Devin and I joked about it because he can't wear his ring in the summer. (a long story for another day) And so I was ringless in the cold months, and he ringless in the hot. What a couple we were. But as I said, we got used to this system and moved our merry way through life. Until an unexpectedly cold Saturday in March. I had decided that it was finally warm enough for me to put my ring back on, and so doing I then went out to work in the yard. I put on my gardening gloves and worked for hours. It wasn't until the evening of the next day, Sunday, that I noticed it was missing. I had gone for months without wearing it, remember, and so the naked finger didn't bother me immediately, but an awareness that something was wrong slowly overcame me until I figured it out. And started crying. Devin searched everywhere. He combed through the grass. The flower beds. He turned the gloves I had worn inside out. We never found my ring.
I would occasionally think that I should get a new ring, but it felt like a betrayal to my old perfect one, and it felt like admitting defeat. That in buying a new one I was acknowledging the complete loss of the old one, and I was not prepared to deal with that.
Enter the library winker. I had at times previously wished that I had a ring on my finger - that comforting symbol of marital status. But it had never really been an obvious issue, as no one had paid much notice to me either way. And then out of nowhere, I'm standing at the checkout line, helping Hallie check out her books, when I happen to look up and see a guy that I've seen at the library often turn at the same moment to look at me, and wink. I'm sure it was a harmless wink, just a sort of nod your head gesture, or friendly wave, but geek that I am I totally freaked. Not knowing how to respond I gave a sort of non-committal half smile that was certainly more of a grimace than anything else, scooped up Hallie, Hanna, and my books, and took off.
I was determined to get a new ring. Granted, he probably was not flirting with me. But I knew that I would feel better with one on my finger. And, as fate would have it my friend invited me to a Lia Sophia party. So I went, planning on only spending the birthday money my Grandma had sent me. (Thanks Grandma!) But then I saw a small, simple, shiny little ring calling to me and couldn't resist. Take that Library Winker, I thought as I ordered it. (Actually, I wasn't thinking about him at all. I was thinking, "I hope Devin doesn't mind that I just picked out my own "wedding ring" without telling him...")
It's true, this ring probably cost a fifth? a tenth? of what my original ring cost. But as I have felt it safe and secure on my finger (I ordered two sizes smaller than my original ring), and each time I look down and see its bright and perky shine on my hand, I can't help but feel happy.
And Devin says that now that I've finally gotten a new ring I'll find the original one in the yard tomorrow. I wish.