When I was ten or eleven years old, my parents gave me a pinkie ring with my initials engraved on it. I was warned not to wear it 'just anywhere', but it was my very first piece of real jewelry, and it beckoned me like a Siren ("C'mon, open the drawer and put me on!") and I, never good at postponing gratification, did exactly that. And, at some point during that day, I lost the ring. I'd had it less than a month, and my mother was absolutely furious at me when I came home and confessed that I'd lost it. "I'll never buy you another piece of jewelry again," she shrieked. "You can't be trusted!"
Of course, she didn't make good on that threat, and they did buy me jewelry as I grew older, but most of it was stolen when my apartment was burglarized in Boston. When I called my parents to tell them about the burglary, her response was "It's your own fault, you know. You should have put it all in a safe deposit box!" (never mind that all of her jewelry, an impressive collection, was stored in the top drawer of her bureau). It was the last time I called my mother with a problem, and the end of expecting any kind of solace or comfort from her.
When David and I went to Paris in October, 2000, we were walking down a small street on the Left Bank, and I saw a gorgeous ring in the window of a tiny store. We went in so I could try it on, but it was too small. The saleswoman showed me another ring, a silver ring with a blue topaz, and I fell in love with it as soon as she pulled it out from under the counter. The exchange rate was in our favor, and the ring only cost the equivalent of $75! I've always thought of it as my "Paris ring".
A couple of weeks ago, I started wearing it all the time, not taking it off when I showered or slept; it reminded me of what will likely be my last trip to Paris, a city I love, and I liked having such a tangible reminder of a time when I could still stroll for five or six miles, without having to use a cane.
Somehow, I managed to lose the ring last night. It's in the house somewhere, I'm sure, but I have no idea where. When my hands get cold, my fingers shrink a little, and the ring obviously slipped off at some point during the evening. We've searched the trash cans and the bed, and all of the obvious places it might be, but so far, it hasn't turned up.
At one point last night, the memory of my very first ring flashed through my mind, and I heard my mother's voice admonishing me for having lost this ring, even though I'll be fifty-nine years old on Wednesday, and my mother has been dead for several years. That voice, that angry, negative, critical voice lives on in my head, despite years of counseling and a life filled with accomplishments and success. Why the hell can't I lose that voice, I ask you?