Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Conversations without rings

When the weather turns cold, my rings start spinning on my fingers. They slide around between the base of my finger and my knuckles, and if I’m not careful, they slip all the way off. Two years ago, I lost the sapphire ring Blain designed for me. I cried when I realized it wasn’t on my hand, and I still haven’t found it. Last year I lost my platinum band in a bag of leaves; I was raking without gloves. Aidan and I emptied the whole bag again and started sifting. We found it after about half an hour, shining quietly among the red and yellow and brown bits of broken leaves.

I guess I’m not alone in this phenomenon of fingers shrinking at the cold, because when I stopped in our local jewelry store a couple of weeks ago, the woman told me there is a simple insert that fits inside the band and keeps it from sliding on the finger. She said that older women with skinny fingers but big knuckles find them useful. I looked down at my hands.

I haven’t been back to the jewelry store; I’ve been enjoying life ringless too much. See, this is what I’ve found: when I’m not wearing a wedding band, people talk to me. Both women and men. At the park, at the grocery store, in line at Papa Murphy’s Pizza. I wondered last week if the mom who struck up a conversation at the dance studio thought I was a single mother. Would such an assumption make me that much more approachable? I’m finding this to be a fascinating sociological experiment.

Yesterday, I went shopping at Safeway with Sophie and Aidan in a car cart, their favorite thing of all. By the time we reached the checkout counter, they were sitting on the door frames, beating the top of the car like a drum, singing, “Hey, ho, nobody home” in a round like you’ve never heard before. The young man in line in front of me turned around and smiled at the kids, smiled at me, and –I saw him take in my hands with his glance at me—started talking with me about the kids.

A wedding ring can act as a shield of sorts; it says, "I'm taken" and rebuffs unwanted advances. But I haven't run into any obnoxious folks yet while ringless. As a mostly lonely sahm, I'm just enjoying the conversations that start up more readily.

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