Back at my wedding celebration, frenzied conversations in low voices had replaced the carefree laughter.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, more and more worried. Concerned glances were exchanged and after a deep breath, news broke to me that Ben’s wedding ring was no longer on his finger, but had plunged to the bottom of the lake.
The Germanic contingent of the party quickly got into action. Our guests were creative in finding tools that could help search for a tiny piece of metal in the sediment that had accumulated on the bottom of a lake for hundreds of years. ” I have glasses ! My Austrian aunt yelled above the fray, in her enthusiasm mistaking her glasses for a popular search engine.
The point is, everyone loves a mission. People dived, scratching the mud. A sieve was recovered from the kitchen and a rake from the shed. The support stations for the divers were made from neon-colored lilos, with water to quench the thirst of those engaged in the urgent ring recovery.
The fierce sun slowly began to decline and as the long shadows of the withered cypress trees made their way across the lake and the cicada choirs began their evening chorus, we realized the battle could have been lost. By now the once clear waters had turned a muddy brown, and a piece of equipment that had failed to reveal Ben’s ring hiding place had been brought home, where our intrepid researchers had turned pink.
The ring Ben carefully placed the day before in my left hand remains where he put it. If I take it off and look inside carefully, I can see our names, our wedding date, and the little hilltop town we took our vows engraved inside. In those middle-aged forgetful moments, when I don’t remember our anniversary, I forget it.
Ben has a funny relationship with his wedding ring. He says that having never worn one before, he played with it in the lake, which is why he fell. He tried to replace him a year later, while we were in Formentera at the wedding of some friends. He found a local jeweler who made perfectly imperfect wedding rings, small bands of gold, irregularly shaped and each completely unique. We ended up having an informal vow renewal, in swimwear, on the beach, chaired by the excited couple who had just gotten married for real.
But today, Ben doesn’t have a ring on his finger. When he climbed Everest, he was warned that his fingers might swell, so he put it on a thin piece of rope around his neck. He doesn’t like wearing rings and although I could interpret this as a sign that he doesn’t want to have an outward symbol indicating that he is indeed engaged, I choose to believe that he is just someone. who is not a fan of jewelry.
It’s the opposite, I keep my wedding ring all the time, mainly because I know that if it’s not on my finger, I’m going to lose it. And so my ring finger is now etched with a deep ridge of muscle wasting where my last 15 year ring has sat undisturbed, becoming so much of a part of me that I would feel lost without it. Hopefully the Murrays feel the same, not least because Andy’s internet advocacy worked and his coaches, with the ring still attached, were fired the next day.
Sometimes Ben’s ring is around his neck; often not. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen him in a while and it’s not entirely impossible that he hasn’t lost this one too.
But that doesn’t bother me, because the rings we put on our fingers didn’t matter; these are the promises we made. And there’s also a part of me that’s happy enough that sitting at the bottom of a murky lake in the Portuguese countryside, in a place that marked the start of a truly happy union, is a little platinum band. bearing our names, buried there forever.