He threw it in the bottom of the box as if it was a forgotten piece of trash, I wouldn’t have even known it was there if I wasn’t specifically searching for it. I had a cardboard box in front of me, full of books and memories sent to me from a boy I had cut off all ties with. At the very bottom of the box was a ring, my ring. I could feel the anger rising in me at the absolute carelessness, as if it didn’t matter at all if I got this ring back or not, he threw it into the box and was done. The anger boiled up inside of me as I picked up the ring. Anger turned to hurt then back to frustration until it finally spilled over into laughter. Of course he didn’t give a shit about this ring, of course he didn’t.
I remember giving him this ring, sitting in his car sharing all our fears and worries, a young idiot who wanted to show him that I cared and would always be there for him, more than any one has before. I slipped the ring off my finger and into his hand, a reminder of me to keep when we would go off to our separate schools hundreds of miles a part. I foolishly pictured him cherishing it, having people ask about it, I wanted the people around him to know who I was since I couldn’t be there to remind them. I wanted to be important, I was young and I was so very naive.
Now here it was, a couple of months later, saved from the bottom of a box. It’s a plain silver band with “strength” engraved on it, it was a gift from my mother on my sixteenth birthday. I was a moody, dramatic teenager and I use to scribble “strength” on the inner corner of my wrist, thinking I’d get it tattooed there someday but at sixteen I’d settle for a less permanent reminder, so my mom got me the ring. I had worn the ring on and off in high school until wearing it daily once I moved out for college. It stayed on my finger every day until I dropped it into the hand of a boy who could never love me.
Once I had my ring back, for reasons looking back I can only call dramatic, I started wearing it on a long chain around my neck instead of my finger. It’s visible in all my pictures from this time, dangling down past my chest, a signal of what I had just went through and all the things I lost and gained. It’s funny because the same would be true in just a couple of months when the ring would be removed from it’s chain and returned to my hand, another symbol of relationships lost and wisdom earned.
I was sitting in a cabin in the woods, on a retreat with people from the business fraternity I was in, talking to a guy from a college a couple towns away. He was cute, funny, and obviously into me. I was glowing from the attention I was being shown, ready to throw myself into flirting and forget about old hurts. I was toying with the ring around my neck when he asked me about it. I said it was from my mom and he replies, “oh so is she dead or something?”
Which first of all, who just asks if your parent is dead so casually like that? We were surrounded by people and he had just asked me if I experienced a massive loss. I was taken a back and said no, she was very much alive and he laughed. I looked down at my ring, laughing along, wondering what I was getting myself into. This exchange ended up being a good representation of the summer fling that would follow with this boy. He wanted to reach in, open me up and get all the dark spots and secrets from me, laughing as he did and always acting as if it was an easy casual thing to do. I was a riddle to be solved, a trophy to be won and then taken a part so he could keep what he liked for the future. I had something in me that he wanted for his future spouse, but not enough to keep him around. He would take what he wanted and then he would go.
I moved the ring back to my finger.
Five years later, the ring my mom gave me at sixteen still sits on the middle finger of my left hand. It’s scratched up and could use a good cleaning, the word strength is still visible but only if you know to look for it. It’s one of the only things I know I’ll never get rid of. I’m not a person who likes to keep things around. It’s easy for me to get rid of all the items of nostalgia people tend to keep,whether that be clothes, jewelry, letters or souvenirs, I tend to purge it all. And yet this ring has stayed with me for almost ten years now, a witness to all my life experiences. It’s been a steady constant, a weight on my hand reminding me I needed strength. Strength to survive high school, relationships, trauma, and changes, strength to remember where I come from and the people who will hold me up when I fall. Strength to accept and love myself, and to realize that the strength does not come from anywhere or anyone else but me. I don’t need to search for it, I’ve been strong all along.
This post is in a series from a project with my friend Rubi, we write about the same prompt every week so if you’re interested in seeing her take on “a physical thing that means a lot to you” then be sure to check out her blog HERE
See you next week 🙂