Sunday, January 9, 2011

Of Rings and Dreams

When my now-husband and I first began discussing marriage, he and I lived several states apart, and my parents lived one state away from me. Aaron and I didn't really get the chance to shop together except to sometimes pick up dinner ingredients.

When we discussed engagement rings, I made it clear that I didn't want an expensive ring and I didn't want a diamond.* One day as I was shopping in a large discount chain store, I stopped by the jewelry counter to take a look at the rings.# One particular ring on this day caught my eye. It was of yellow gold and had one tiny, oval ruby in the center; four square rubies, much smaller than the center stone, were channel set into the band. It was beautiful. I don't remember how much it cost, but I do remember that it was inexpensive.

The weekend Aaron met my parents, he and I stayed at their house. To thank them for their hospitality, he and I decided to cook dinner one night. We went grocery shopping at another store in the same retail chain that carried the ring I liked so much. We looked at the jewelry counter to see if the ring was available; it was, and it fit.

We looked at a few rings online together at a later date, and it was one of those, a beautiful, classic blue sapphire, that Aaron bought as my engagement ring. He had thought the ruby too small - as he put it, "chintzy."

I loved, and do love, my engagement ring. But I still thought the first ring was breathtaking. I continued to look in the jewelry counter at the discount store in my hometown to see if the inexpensive ring I liked so much was ever so cheap that I could justify purchasing it for myself. I watched the price go down and down again, and I finally saw that ring go into the clearance side of the jewelry counter and then, finally, disappear. (Just to clarify, something generally has be a mind-bogglingly good deal for me to justify purchasing it for myself. This kind of shopping is something of an amusement to me and, certainly, a habit that would now be very hard to break.)

After Aaron and I moved and married, I would continue to look for the beautiful little ruby ring in the discount chain store here. I never saw it.

After we'd been here about a year, my husband and I visited friends and family in the South. I had agreed to make the cake for a friend's wedding, the date of which happily coincided with the reunion of my siblings and their spouses at my parents' house.

The wedding was beautiful, and my friend was much more flattering of the cake than I felt it deserved. She gave me a thank-you note at the reception, and I discovered upon opening it later that she had slipped a hundred-dollar bill into it.

A day or so after the wedding, Aaron and I again went shopping together at the discount store in my parents' small town. Once again, we saw the ruby ring. The ring was deeply discounted because the design had been discontinued, and my husband suggested I purchase it. I'd already rationalized doing so.

For a very long time, I have believed that there is truth to the theory that we can manifest that which we desire into our lives. That does not mean that I always have faith that I can do so.

I struggle with the idea, even in the face of all the evidence to the contrary. Yes, life has sometimes been hard. But my life has been, and is, beautiful. And if I had a physical list of what I most wanted out of life, there would already be a check mark beside each bullet point.

I hope it doesn't make me selfish that I'm not finished dreaming yet. My biggest dream is that the fulfillment of my most important dreams continues in its entirety - that my family and each person in it grows in wholeness and health for years and years to come. To tell the truth, I'm not sure how much I have to do with that dream, regardless of my attitude, considering the free will of others. But I do think that, at the very least, my dreaming will help me contribute to the lives of those I love in the best way I can. And I also think that free will is far from the only influencing factor in most life situations, so it's still up to me to do all that I can possibly do.

The far lesser dreams would sound a bit silly if I were to speak of them, so far from them as I appear to be. But the dreams in our heads are just our best interpretations of the dreams of our souls. Picturing exactly what we want is a bit like visualizing God; the best we can do in the latter case is come up with an idea that represents, to us, the qualities we believe God to have. We don't know exactly what our dreams look like until we get them, and we never really know how close to them we are. But I will let myself have these dreams, and I will conjure up the pictures that work best for me. And I will pull my little ruby ring out of my jewelry box and wear it when I want help with either.

* I realize there may be those who think it takes the romance out of a proposal if a bride-to-be-to-be makes her ring wishes known, but I can say that both Aaron and I remember his proposal as romantic, I loved my ring and still do, and we're both happy he didn't overspend.

# Shopping at a discount chain store for an engagement ring is also thought to be inappropriate by some, but again, it doesn't bother me. There's the whole political/economic issue of shopping at such stores (which is, to me, the only truly important concern), but the stores themselves are such a part of our economy that a simple boycott is not the solution. (And do not believe that the higher-end rivals of the chains most commonly disdained have better business practices. They do not. I worked at one such higher-end discount store for a short while; my hours were limited to prevent me from qualifying for benefits, and as part of my training, I was forced to sit and watch an alarmist video about the evils of unionization.) I've always found the quality of the jewelry sold at discount chains to be comparable to that of jewelry sold at chain jewelry stores of the type found in malls and shopping centers, so that doesn't worry me, either.


  1. I'm totally with you and your ruby ring, Tracy. When we were engaged Tammy saw a Tiger's Eye ring that she reckoned was probably Victorian in one of those shops that sits somewhere between 'junk' and 'antique'. She said that's what she wanted even though it was priced as costume jewellery and essentially cost pocket change. She wore it for years but she was inclined to fiddle with it and shortly before our Silver Wedding anniversary she managed to leave both her engagement ring and her wedding band in a hotel. The wedding band came back, the engagement ring didn't. So for our anniversary we went together to buy a 'proper' ring with a diamond in it. We looked at the prices and decided we just didn't want to spend hundreds of pounds on a ring. We bought something pretty with sapphire and diamond for what seemed quite a lot to us but what was much less than I believe is considered appropriate for an engagement ring. And, you know, we're just as married as we would have been with a big diamond. We genuinely can't understand the thinking behind the trophy engagement ring. There's lots of more enjoyable ways a couple can spend that kind of money. (And a lot of prettier rings.)

  2. Tracy (and TCW, above) I completely agree with you both. Having worked with so many unhappy couples over the years, I can say with certainty that if couples put nearly the amount of time, energy, and interest into planning BEING married as they do into GETTING married, they'd be a lot better off in the end.

    "...the dreams in our heads are just our best interpretations of the dreams of our souls." I love that, Tracy, and it's so true.

  3. Yes, we knew we'd have some major expenses coming up after we got married - it just wasn't worth it to see money go to jewelry. I'm personally crazy for rings, but only those with interesting and beautiful designs. I couldn't care less about expense (well, yes I could - I shun it). My engagement ring (the sapphire) was less than $200.00, purchased online.