“Wearing the Engagement Ring Without the Wedding Band” Club

While doing some heavy cleaning, I put my diamond engagement ring and simple wedding band on my ring holder. Later in the evening I noticed my naked finger and asked my husband to retrieve my rings from the bedroom. He brought the sparkly round diamond ring, surrounded by a halo of small diamonds, and mimicking a proposal, he asked me to marry him as he slipped it back home on my finger. I looked down and asked, “But where is the wedding band?”

He says, “Oh, I guess I forgot that one; or didn’t notice it there. I don’t know why you need two anyway.”

I said, “It looks so much better this way. You don’t care if I don’t wear the other one?”

He furrowed his brow as if I just asked him a “Do I look fat in these?” question and said, “Of course not; why dilute the gorgeous ring with the other one?”

So for the last two weeks I’ve been wearing just the one diamond ring as if I’m still just engaged and not yet married. The diamond catches my eyes in all of the different lights; making prisms in the car or blinding me under the Costco’s fluorescent bulbs. Without the cloudiness of the wedding band, the brilliant rock gets to stand solo with pride. I felt so different toting this ring alone without its grounding partner; what was this feeling actually all about?

I remember when my husband first slipped it onto my finger, on the Brooklyn Bridge about 20 months ago. It was my 40th birthday and despite spending most of my life in New York City, I had never walked across the bridge. It was 80 degrees, with the kind of blue skies you usually need a filter to capture and white clouds like cotton balls. It’s like we dialed the weather channel to “perfect” and it was delivered with a bow on my birthday. My husband parked a few blocks away from the bridge in an effort to trick me into where we were heading. I was distracted by my daughter, still in a stroller, and didn’t realize where we were headed until we were already climbing uphill. I suspected something would happen but was diverted instantly when I noticed all of the love locks on the bridge. Couples attach engraved locks onto the bridge as a symbol of commitment. They do this in Paris and other cities around the world too and apparently it’s not good for the bridges, but great for romance. We stopped just shy of the first arch and my husband surprised me with an antique lock he had etched our names onto with the date we met.  We attached the lock in a ceremonial moment which would forever be the “pre-moment” while my son captured most of it on phone video. While he was clipping the lock onto the bridge, my husband, already down on one knee broke out into more traditional proposal jargon. Nervous not to drop the ring between the slats, this is also the precise moment my daughter decided she desperately needed to pee. When we told her to wait, she pleaded to just “pee on the bridge just like we do in the Target parking lot.”

My husband, who incidentally, came straight from work, was dressed as a professional clown. In this post-moment, when he was in costume, down on his knee, a woman with a heavy German accent behind us kept repeating, “Look, there is a clown on zee bridge!” The whole experience was whizzing by even though I knew I had to hold onto it. Life’s biggest milestones all behave in this fashion. As we stood on this quintessential NYC landmark, and “locked it in,” physically and symbolically, with our children as witnesses and the swarms of tourists as a fuzzy background, we became officially engaged, turning the page onto the next chapter.

As we walked off the bridge, with new titles, I felt a happiness I knew I would fall back on later in life. I knew, when they say your life flashes in front of your eyes, that this is one of those moments. This was my moment strutting across the stage of my life, with a tiara, a sash, and a title.

When I look down at my ring, I think of his eyes looking at me across the room, and my stomach feels the same butterflies it did over 11 years ago when we first met.  The dazzling ring brings me right back to those early engagement days of promise and beginnings – even after 10 years together. It reminds me how romance after decades isn’t a myth; it’s a practice. We didn’t just select “I Choose You” as a wedding song, we live it as our relationship mantra.

Looking down at my engagement ring alone on my finger once again, without the hindrance of a bland band to dull it down, I realize its power far outweighs its monetary value. It is like “The Mirror of Erised” in Harry Potter, which shows you what you most desire in the world. It seems to rewind time and bring me back to precious moments, which otherwise can easily slip away.

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