I saw the ring in a magazine for brides-to-be, and it caught and held my eyes for what felt like a long and lingering stare. It was a white gold Tacori design, cradling a sapphire at its center, with small encrusted diamond and sapphire accents encircling it.
It winked at me in the full-color, full-page ad. "I could be yours," it whispered.
We had been discussing marriage in very vague terms over the years in the course of our tumultuous five-year relationship. Two cities and several apartments later, there we were in our new town, and it was decision time. I didn't like the idea of an ultimatum, and at the same time, I was getting impatient. How long was I to wait before my own fairytale walk down the aisle? I was still seeing through the rose-colored glasses I was born wearing; I could not see the end of the relationship looming down the road. Actually, I could see it, but I refused to acknowledge the specter of it.
I brought him to the jeweler to see my ring of choice one day, and he made all of the right noises about how beautiful it was. I signed the paperwork myself for the order. After all, I was the one with the job.
I was, in effect, proposing to myself. Willing myself to believe that it was all going to turn out just fine.
And it's true that I loved that ring when it arrived. I didn't care a bit that the center stone wasn't a diamond; I had always been partial to gems of color. Twirling it around my finger and gazing at it during the day convinced me that all that glittered was, indeed, white gold.
I had ignored every red flag that unfurled in front of my face throughout the doomed relationship, hoping against hope that everything was going to turn out just fine. After all, didn't Prince Charming always come around in the end? I clearly had watched Pretty Woman too many times. In this case, the prince wasn't going to step up and be the husband I always wanted. In fact, he wanted to date other people and moved out.
When we went our separate ways, four years later, I took off the ring and put it in a velvet-lined drawer in my dresser. It sat way in the back, where I couldn't lose it or look at it. It was an ill-kept secret in my drawer and in my head for months, gathering dust and memories. I thought about it and thought about it and considered what I should do.
Shall I have it melted down and made into a pair of earrings or a necklace?
Give it to one of my nieces?
Finally, I decided it was a talisman of bad fortune, and I was going to sell it. Looking at the possibilities of pawn shops, a newspaper ad and private shops, I searched for a jeweler who bought estate jewelry. I dialed the number of a store on the east side of town, and verified that they would take a look at my ring.
Walking into the shop, bells clanged as I opened the door, and I approached the counter. The jeweler took his loupe to my ring, examining it every which way before handing it back to me and making an offer. The estimate, sadly, was approximately one-tenth of what I had paid for it. I looked at my ring for a moment, and handed it back to him, pinching it between my thumb and finger with a final squeeze before letting it go. This small piece of jewelry, the one that had fit my hand perfectly for four tumultuous years, represented the hope that I kept in my heart for all this time. Letting go of that hope was one of the hardest parts.
Goodbye, beautiful sapphire. Goodbye, ring. Goodbye, old life.
I paid for that ring my own money, and I loved it well. Now it was time for it to go.
I went home and paid for a much-needed air conditioner fix for my house, a few new dresses and an outrageous pair of sexy, strappy shoes.
The relief washed over me; I felt good about it. I had already taken a plastic bag -- or 10 -- to throw away all the vestiges of my former life: photos, letters, mementos... even my wedding photo negatives. Selling my ring seemed to be the next step in my metamorphosis, and shedding the skin of my marriage gave me the impetus to move forward.
I repeated the mantra I had been telling myself since he walked out the door: I am strong. I am beautiful. I will love again, and I will not be bitter. And I emerged from the house in my new shoes and into my new life.