The” Physicalization” of a Life United
I’ve grown accustomed to wearing both my wedding band and my engagement ring; I have, in fact, had them soldered together. As with any piece of jewelry, or new accessory or apparatus, I needed to get used to wearing it. My ring has not left my appointed finger since I received it, save the few days it took to get sized and soldered. At first I felt as though I might have to return the ring for something different for even though it was beautiful the combination of the sharp cut of the gold and the jagged, brilliant diamonds left my surrounding fingers raw. My ring was a small merciless saw slicing my flesh with each movement of my fingers. I surely could not keep it.
It is no accident that a wedding band is shaped from a semi-pliable metal set with one of the strongest substances on earth creating a piece of jewelry, a physical reminder, that is strong, brilliant, beautiful, heavy and hard.
I sometimes wonder how I can wear both my old jewelry and my new jewelry for fear they will clash. Pieces of deep meaning and beauty lay obsolete while I try to integrate them into my new role’s wardrobe, generating a fear my past will be eradicated, my identity obscured behind layers of dust and tarnish. It has become clear I need a third piece containing elements of the old and the new, the past and the present, him and me that will create a coherent and seamless version of my past and future self.
I have developed an instinctive thumb/ring twisting motion which I use to ensure the ring has not annoyingly twisted out of position or to purposely twist its diamond away from my daughter’s delicate face and flesh or my husband’s aching back. Glancing down I notice just how much my ring emphasizes and accentuates the slenderness and seeming fragility and simultaneous roughness of my fingers. My ring is perfectly situated upon my appointed finger and as I slip it off to study my hands I can see just how odd my finger now looks without its specified adornment. While wearing my ring, my finger looks natural, whole and normal. But in its absence, the indents it has created are apparent and odd-looking, abnormal and unnatural. My ring visualizes my incompleteness and my inherently human imperfections. For all of its strength, stubbornness and immobility, even the thickest most seemingly immobile band has conformed to more comfortably fit my finger’s shape just as my finger has melded into a more ring friendly shape.
Time’s passage has made me more comfortable with my ring. I feel the impact of its absence and seldom realize its presence, yet there are moments when the old callused – like patches of skin on my surrounding fingers once again become delicate, fragile and irritated by my very visible treasure’s stingingly sharp edges. My ring, as all wedding rings, was undoubtedly carefully and painstakingly fashioned and welded to create an outward expression of this otherwise intangible entity of marriage.
More than status, much more than continuity and more than commitment a wedding band is the “physicalization” of a life united with another in the institution of marriage. We strengthen one another yet struggle not to be weakened by our differences. We transform our pasts, events, times, places and people, personalities and passions, all that has molded and shaped us into our present being, realizing we must refashion our definitions of self and life, love and togetherness.
My ring has taken a lot of getting used to and my fingers likely are still adjusting. It may never quite fit perfectly or comfortably but no matter how long I have it I will love it, think it beautiful and totally disregard it; it will always at times be irritating and down right hurtful and get in the way. Its brilliance is already caked with soap and muck; it needs a cleaning to restore its original luster, yet no matter how often or diligently I clean my ring it will never again be possessive of its excitement of newness; yet the blinding brilliance of newness and lack of personalization no longer appeals to me. In its absence my finger is barren and my soul empty. To replace my ring would be erroneous and frankly impossible.