09/19/2014 02:50 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Why I Still Wear My High School Class Ring

I have been wearing my high school class ring for the past 2 years, now and then, what surprises me are people's reactions. On the East Coast, where I went to high school, mostly people shrug and look a bit confused with a touch of laughter in their voice as they ask "are you wearing your high school class ring?" It seems odd that the people who are most confused and snub my accessory choice are people who grew up similar to me and owned one. You would think that those would be the ones who might be a little nostalgic or at least be a little curious to see it up close and decipher the hieroglyphics (I graduated from high school in 1989). So it got me to thinking about all the stories of lost class rings returned after a lake dried up or I think one turned up in a Seattle ring has stories and I wear it because of those stories.

I did not want a ring and actually worked hard at convincing my father that it was really uncool and unnecessary but he said to me time and time again "I will not have you running around later when you cannot get one saying that your father was cheap and did not care about your school days." There it was in the Balfour catalogue so I quickly checked the boxes that designed my ring and walked away from the situation until it showed up. When it arrived, it felt too heavy and the stone was way too big and green...I tried to pawn it off on my girlfriend and she just wouldn't go for it. At that point, it lived in the ashtray of my car and if my dad's car was in the drive way, I slipped it on. That was it.

Until a couple of years into college, where I would never wear it in public, I was dating a sailor who was headed off on an aircraft carrier or warship to take his career around the world. What better way to pawn this thing off then to tell my father, I gave it to a man I care about in the Navy, seeing as my father ended his Naval career at 42 years ,this was a total win. Again, that was it. Until through the wonder of social media he friended me and sent me a message saying he had something of mine and needed to send it back. I got so excited because I just knew it was this cardigan from Sisley that had the most perfect green and purple color palette or even better, maybe it was my green, black and yellow John Deere sweater. I quickly sent him my address and didn't ask too many questions because I like surprises and figured I would know soon enough. A week later a tiny package arrived and I was puzzled because that ring had been gone for 20 years so it's very existence was a blank to me. Breaking it out of the package was kind of sweet because I had this overwhelming sentiment of what a great guy he is for holding onto it for so many years and then messaging me that he always knew it was something I should have back when I was older. Makes perfect sense because I would have hocked it for a plane ticket to Mexico or something urgent like that in my 20's and even early 30's. It perfectly slipped onto my finger and was so soft yet held a weight that was present but not a burden. For a short time, I wore the ring as reminder of my father, the sailor, and the Navy but not my high school.

As the use of this ring in my life diminished, my work began to send me to Paris on a semi regular basis. During my second trip to Paris, I was standing outside my hotel, late at night, talking on my cell phone because of the time change and paced my way into a little courtyard. Out of the shadows jumped a little guy in a hoodie holding the smallest knife, maybe 4 inches and he said for me to give him money. Luckily, I was standing on the curb above him and I'm 6'1 so I just kicked him in the chest across the street and ran into my hotel but I felt like this was something that could happen again and the next guy or guys might not be so small. That's when I remembered my older brother practicing all his karate, nunchucks and various self defense moves on me growing up and he always said wear a big ring and aim for the eye brow because if you can open that up then his eyes will be full of blood and you can really kick his ass. All of a sudden going out at night for me in Paris or Milan included this power ring. It does not look like a weapon but it has a large faceted stone set on a solid mound of low grade gold that would definitely open up an eyebrow. As self defense, I wear this ring.


At this point, we are talking about 30% of the time, I am wearing this ring. Then a funny thing happened. During a trip to the Panhandle of Florida visiting my family for a bit of an immediate family reunion; my brother brought his best friend. His best friend happened to go to high school with me and was in my class. He was a jock and I was in art club. Over the course of 4 days, I got to really know him and also consider him family because of his bond with my brother. He immediately noticed my class ring and we laughed about the fact that I almost had a hologram of a ram's head in the stone but opted out luckily. He didn't know where his ring was but he thinks he got the hologram. So having such a random opening of a relationship with a friend as an adult got me to thinking and considering all the other relationships that have matured or strengthened due to social media. My high school had kick ass people and I like what they have all become so all of a sudden now I am wearing this thing because I'm sentimental and proud of my high school class.

Now I am petrified of losing the damn thing and I definitely do not care when someone makes a wise crack. I have several friends who think it is beautiful and I haven't told them these stories. It tends to go with just about anything, especially for someone who lives in the East Village of Manhattan. Of course the real reason and why I probably wear this ring so much now is because my father is always right.