I lost my engagement ring. I mean, really lost it. I haven’t seen it in a month, maybe more. I wish I was a robot and I could check my memory chip and replay all of my thoughts and actions, because then I would know exactly what happened, and I would also experience those amazing tortillas we got all over again. But maybe robots don’t like melted cheese as much as I do?
I looked under everything with a flashlight. My dad blamed the cat, but she maintains her innocence. I looked under everything again, with a different flashlight that seemed a little brighter. It was gross under everything and I didn’t want to reach in there, but I’m pretty sure there was no ring.
And I’m probably not supposed to say this, but I don’t miss it.
And at the same time, I definitely want it back.
And while I’m talking about my ring, I should say that I’m defensive only because people keep writing these pieces about how stupid it is to have a diamond engagement ring. How wasteful and bad and selfish and outmoded and generally super duper hugely lame. And also, you’re a bad feminist if you have one.
I didn’t want to get a diamond ring, for the record. Not originally. I wanted citrine. I love the color. I wanted a quirky, graceful citrine ring. And then my mom and I talked about it a lot and she had all these very strong opinions and I didn’t, which is often how it goes and the reason why there were so many cheese platters at my wedding. And she basically twisted my arm until I squealed, “Okay! Okay, woman! I’ll have a friggin’ diamond, for the love of god!”
I mean, sort of. It wasn’t exactly like that.
My mom didn’t have a diamond engagement ring. She got married in a bit of a hurry when she was 19, and she wore a floral print dress and my dad wore a bright yellow suit with brown lapels that his dad told him was absolutely, seriously stylish. Listening to your parents runs in my family, I guess.
My mom said I should get a diamond because it looks like an engagement ring. Because it tells the world that you’re engaged, and because, she said, I’d want the world to know. Also, a diamond is valuable and I could pass it down to my children one day, and it would become a family heirloom. Which is, you know, a little hard to imagine when you’re twenty-three and loath family reunions because they feel so inexplicably oppressive and mysteriously exhausting (even though everyone is probably fine).
Bear and I chose my ring together, online. We are not known for our flair for the romantic. It’s the standard one: a round solitaire diamond with a gold band.
My mom was right—I was glad. I liked that it said so plainly, “I’m engaged!” And strangely, I liked that it wasn’t my style. It was just engagement style. And even though engagement didn’t feel that different except that it was better than when I wasn’t engaged because I felt that I had officially claimed the best man in the world, something had changed. I’d changed. I had added something, and it had become a part of every outfit and every day.
I don’t wear it much anymore. I mean, I wasn’t wearing it much before I lost it. Now I have a wedding band, and that says what I want the second finger of my left hand to say, and the diamond feels excessive. The diamond feels like a special occasion, the wedding band feels pleasantly mundane.
But all the same, I get annoyed and huffy when someone talks about how ridiculous diamond rings are. How we should all be past this. How it’s sexist. It’s uncool. It’s a cliché. It’s too expensive to be justified.
My wedding gown was also all of those things, except the last one (wedding gown warehouse sale!). Big and fluffy and white and possibly glittering slightly, I can’t actually remember, but there were definitely petticoats. It was almost exactly what Disney would’ve come up with, and then he would’ve lopped off most of my nose, like my plastic surgeon flagrantly failed to do, and tied a giant pink bow around my waist—ta da! She’s beautiful!
Oh, but whatever. I wasn’t just me that day, I was Bride. I liked being her and me at the same time. Regular me would never wear that, but I sort of wished I could anyway.
The world is full of people who yell at you to be all or nothing, even as none of us can be that way. Pious people are just constantly sinning because there are too many potential ways to sin.
There are so many ways to fail all of your little communities and accidentally ostracize yourself. It’s that feeling I get when I go out with a Jew who’s more ritually observant than I am, and I order a bacon cheeseburger, and they avert their eyes politely, and for a moment there’s this chill that settles, and it’s like, “Oh. Well, I thought you were serious about Judaism. I guess I was wrong.” Or maybe I’m reading into that too much and it’s more like, “Maybe we’re not so alike after all. Am I also remembering that you like Picard more than Kirk? I should have known…” Or maybe I have no idea what it’s like, really, but I just know it feels slightly shameful and then I feel slightly defensive and I want to say something about how I’m plenty Jewish, and that thing about the bacon cheeseburger was never in the Torah, anyway, because back then no one had ever heard of a cheeseburger or even a regular burger, and it’s a random rule in a litany of other random rules and I pay attention to some of the other ones, but let’s not pretend it’s not all totally arbitrary when you get down to it.
There are so many things to feel slightly shameful about.
I am not sure if it’s not cool that I cook dinner for Bear so many nights, or if that’s cool now. I think it would be considered cool if he cooked, too, but he doesn’t. Does it count that he wants to, but he works too late? Or that I’d be the one cooking, even if he’s home earlier, because I like it so much?
I try not to use a lot of chemicals these days, but then I just go ahead and put regular deodorant on because oh my god, I STINK when I use the natural one. I know my armpits are going to get cancer, but it seems more polite.
I am not radical enough about anything.
I am never very much of a rebel.
I didn’t go to school, but I’m not exactly out on the front lines, battling to change education. Once I was on a radio show to talk about unschooling, and it was me and all of these education reformers and authors. The host asked me why I thought education was completely broken, and I was like, “Um, do I think that? I don’t know. Sometimes I think that. But it depends on where, and who, and…” I trailed off uncertainly. Unschooling was my life, but that doesn’t make it my life’s work.
I usually recycle, but I sometimes just throw a carton into the garbage because the can is like one foot closer to me than the recycling is.
I am not a pure artist—I want people to pay me for my writing, and I have written countless pieces that weren’t as smart as they would’ve been otherwise because I let people edit them to fit some bland idea of what some bland audience wanted to read. And I am proud of those pieces, because they are a part of my scrappy little career. Someone from college once called me a sellout.
I get the impression that consistent rebellion is in. That, as a young person, I should personalize everything, and take it back, and own it, and make it truly mine, and reclaim it. Sex, marriage, career, rings, bicycles, food, art, hats, religion, furniture, the city, shoes, and eventually motherhood. I should find a way to express my specific brand of rebelliousness and conscientiousness in each area. I should DIY all the time. I should think all of the remnants of the old, corporate, oppressive system are stupid.
I should never have gotten a diamond ring or had a big white wedding. Maybe I shouldn’t even have gotten married, actually. Especially not so young.
Honestly, I love small, non-white weddings. I love creative engagement rings. I am impressed with the people who customize everything in their lives, and I not-so-secretly wish that all of my drinking glasses were mason jars, because it looks cooler. I even like those blocky, vintage bikes. Proceed, long-haired, dress-wearing, round-glasses-sporting, hipster-beautiful women on your clunky bikes! Lead us into the future!
I am no threat to you, I swear, here in my marital apartment, actually wearing an apron as I cook yet another dinner in which some but not all of the vegetables swear to god they are from the secret local organic farms that NYC must be hiding all around its crumbling borders, maybe at the faraway edge of Queens. I am not wearing my diamond ring, because I almost never do, and because I lost it, but one day you may see me in it again, and I won’t be sorry about selling out, and I will attempt to swallow the slight shame that sometimes creeps up. There are better things to think about.
Bear wasn’t here for our second wedding anniversary. He was on a business trip, being all tragic and sending me a lot of woeful emails about how he’d make everything up to me later even though we both know we’re bad at celebrating. My mom came in to hang out with me that day, and we went to Ikea, to return some wooden slats that didn’t fit the bedframe and buy more standard-issue drinking glasses. I wore the ring that Bear had given me before he left. It is citrine, and it glows amber when the light hits it. I wear it on my right hand, and the wedding band on my left, and I like that look a lot.
I’m not a good rebel, but I am increasingly better at being myself, and maybe there’s something rebellious in the end about admitting to liking what you like, and being conventional and boring and weird and fascinating all at the same time. Or maybe it has nothing to do with rebellion at all, and that’s fine. Still, if I could get married all over again, I think I’d wear the same dress, but I’d get a buzz cut the day before. Not so much to be original– more to just be me.
Anyone else with a diamond engagement ring? A totally non-traditional engagement ring? Why did you do it?