One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all
and in the darkness bind them.
J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, 1954, chapter 2
I never wore rings in my twenties. Earrings, yes. Bracelets stacked and stretched over lace gloves in my 80s Madonna phase. But never a ring. Especially not on “that” finger; the one that states to the world that somebody loves you and wants to claim you for their own.
In my late 20s I had my first real boyfriend, one who wasn’t famous, married, or a sugar daddy. And one Christmas he bought me a beautiful ring, a sparkler of rubies and diamonds. It was exquisite. I wore it on “that” finger and found that I liked it there.
A few years later I was preparing to wear another ring on that finger, a slim gold wedding band. As a symbol of love and fidelity to my jealous husband-to-be, I sold the beautiful ruby and diamond ring; hocked it for thirty bucks. Not long afterward I became the mother of two daughters, born in July (rubies) and April (diamonds.) When my husband proved to be unfaithful, I ended the marriage and off came the wedding ring.
I couldn’t bear to have that finger bare after fourteen plus years of marriage, so I bought a replacement. The center was black onyx, symbolizing the death of a marriage.
My heart began to heal and I fell in love again; truly, madly, deeply. This was the Big One – real love. I replaced the onyx with a narrow twisted silver band, waiting for my love to make a commitment that he would symbolize with a new ring.
After three years together, I started to hint. I told my love that a woman without a ring was like a dog without a collar – she has no proof that she belongs to anyone. Someone might feel free to take her home. Finally, he acquiesced, buying me an elegant solitaire in a platinum cathedral setting. I called it a promise ring.
“What exactly am I promising?” he asked nervously.
Later, I thought of it as a shut-up ring. Eventually our love crumbled, ending in a slow withering painful death. In the middle of it all, I woke one night in a cold sweat, the ring burning my flesh like fire. I took it off and could never bear to wear it again.
Single again, I bought a moonstone ring. The moon symbolizes change. I’ve worn this ring through Spain, Morocco, and South America as I burned my past to the ground and recreated myself – a phoenix rising from the ashes.
I no longer feel like a collarless dog. I’m a wild mustang, a playful dolphin, a wise alley cat. I’m friendly but independent. Sure you can pet me, but I don’t need your doghouse.
When I get back to my new home in Boulder to slowly, carefully, mindfully build a gorgeous and simple life – a shining solitaire in its own right – I’ll buy a new ring to symbolize the transformation. And if someday I meet someone who wants to join his life with mine, I’ll switch rings once again. But I won’t beg. And I won’t compromise my soul again to be tied to the porch of someone who really doesn’t even want the responsibility of a pet.
Until that day, I’ll symbolize my growth as it occurs, content to adorn myself with love, compassion, and baubles ever-changing.