A ring (not unlike a relationship…hmm) calls forth all kinds of expectations: deeply, sometimes even subconsciously, held ideas about how something should look or feel or be, how others should act or respond. The “unexpected” expectations are particularly tricky, since most of us don’t even realize we hold them until something we didn’t expect happens instead.
For example, I didn’t realize how much I was looking forward to people asking to see my ring until a lot of folks didn’t. I suspect people refrain out of politeness: they don’t want their natural curiosity to be confused with nosiness (or judging the rock). I was equally hesitant to thrust my hand out uninvited, lest my excitement be misinterpreted as showing off or demanding admiration. But I quickly realized I had indeed expected most everyone to respond to my news the way the women in my office did: all three stood up, crowded around me, gave me congratulatory hugs, and then took my hand and gasped. Such moments were part of the dream for me, and I thrilled to the, well, thrill of it all. After all this time, announcing I was engaged did feel kind of miraculous.
I love my ring and the story it tells me. I chose it myself, sort of, and it’s the “sort of” piece that makes me cherish it all the more. The story of that “sort of” is itself a parable about expectations.
Over drinks with Steve late one December night at Billy’s, the specter of marriage arose, and he hinted he’d want to know, at some point, what kind of ring I liked. I’ve always loved vintage clothes and jewelry, and some years ago at an antique show, I’d tried on and fallen hard for a filigree band set with a small diamond. Based on that, I told Steve I liked art deco styles. Later, it occurred to me that the filigree piece was the only diamond ring I’d ever given more than a passing glance. I had no idea what I liked. Continue reading