Thursday, April 7, 2016

My Circles of Life

Indalo Man Ring

Circles. Round bits of metal and gemstones. Promise rings. Engagement rings. Wedding rings. Broken circles. Broken promises. What about these meaningless, yet oh so meaningful bits of adornment worn upon our left hand ring fingers?

By now, these rings have piled up; their stories embedded in their hard tiny O-shapes. I still have the first ring given to me by a boy. It won't slide past my baby finger knuckle now. The pale pastel opal set in white gold seems faded and insignificant, not unlike the memories of that relationship. The insignificance only in relation to the brief two years of our coupling, not in reference to what it meant at the time. You know, that early "real" relationship with all of its firsts. I recall how much I treasured that token of his love. It announced I was part of a duo. I was unavailable. Taken. It is the ring that symbolizes the starting point in my journey of love and loss. My first heartbreak.

The next ring I wanted never materialized. I loved him more than he loved me and I wanted a ring from him but he never gave me one. That wished for confirmation that never found a home on my hand probably taught me more about love than I realized at the time. I knew the relationship was one-sided and a ring would not have balanced anything. It would have been a meaningless gesture, so just as well he did not bestow a trinket of what would have amounted to false hope. I had no band of silver or gold to prove to the world I was loved, because I wasn't. I gave him my heart when all he wanted was the body that held it.

A rolling ring came next. It was a knock-off the the infamous Cartier Rolling Ring. Three bands of
white, pink and yellow gold, intertwined. It was a playful ring. It slid on and off my married ring finger like silken metal against my skin. It was somewhat unique and all we could afford. We were fresh out of university and struggling to make a start in life. I was happy with these simple bands of hope and promise. It never occurred to me at the time how the ease of slipping off my finger foreshadowed his ease of slipping out of our marriage bed. In fact, I had a warning shot early on when it slid off my finger into a lake while we swam. I watched with horror as it disappeared into the black-bottomed depths of that cottage country fresh water lake just as I listened with horror two years later to the sound of him making love to another woman from the other side of the bedroom door. The replacement ring rolled off my finger for good that day along with him. I should have known neither was a tight fit.

My next ring was larger than life. When asked if I wanted a big ring, I was honest this time. YES! We had a ring designed to reflect my artsy self-image. It was unlike any traditional wedding ring. No pair of rings for me. I wanted one big knuckle-duster with presence and impact. I loved that ring. I still love that ring. It was an original. The design was modern; a combination of white and yellow gold, a large central Cabochon Amethyst flanked by high quality quarter carat diamonds sitting high up on my finger never failed to please my eye. It spoke volumes. It screamed status. It spelled creativity. It was soooo me. Or so I thought. For many years it fit perfectly. Just the right amount of snug. Not long after I got it, I became a bit disappointed with how the amethyst became scratched. The once shiny surface was marred and dull. I kept meaning to have it reset and re-polished, but never got around to the task. I lived with the flaws. After about 18 years, it became loose on my finger, sometimes even falling off if I wasn't careful. It started to seem clunky and annoying almost. It was too big for my ring finger but still too small for my "fuck you" finger. It had lost its fit. I still loved the ring, but I didn't love it on me any longer. The ring, like my marriage had run its course. The flaws were too deeply embedded. A jeweller told me he would have to remove the amethyst and sand the stone so severely to fix it that it would not fit in the original setting. He told me I would be better off replacing the stone altogether. It sits in a safe now and I take it out from time to time to admire it and remember our time together and the important milestones we shared.

A ringless period followed. My finger felt naked and vulnerable for a time. I was single. Available. Untaken. At first it felt scary. I was a bit lost. My identity was shaky. I felt eyes upon me. A glance at my empty ring finger from a stranger was noticed. I wanted to hide my single status one day, then wave it about like a victory flag the next. It was unpredictable. Was I ashamed of being single in my fifties? Was I so identified with being a Mrs. that I did not know who I was without that title? As time passed it became easier and I noticed it less, until it mattered not.

I am wearing a new ring now. A new old ring. It is a reproduction of a silver pinky ring I had bought for myself in Spain in 1977. I gave that ring to a boy I cared about in 1979. It was a symbolic gesture at the time. The ring is the image of Indalo Man. It is a stick figure of a man holding a rainbow over his head. It is considered good luck to the person who receives it. There are many meanings attributed to the symbol including new beginnings. When I gave away my original ring I told this boy that Canada was at one end of the rainbow and Australia was at the other and maybe one day we would meet again somewhere along that rainbow. He kept this ring in a box for the next 32 years. When we reconnected in 2011, I asked him if he still had the ring and he said, "Of course I do." He had this ring remade for me in gold and had a diamond set as the head of the Indalo Man. It is not a wedding ring. We are not married. It is a symbol of our connection; our history and our new beginning. It feels light on my finger. Not cumbersome. Comfortable. I wear it on my left pinky finger, just close enough to my ring finger to remind me of our bond but far enough away to remind me I am not just a Mrs.

Have I come full circle? So it would seem.

Original Indalo Man Ring