It's Finally Over: Loaded Words
A Minute to Myself (17)

Taking It Off

When I got married my ex had just finished his military service (in Israel it’s a requirement) and was about to start college, while I supported us working as a technical writer. (I wrote those software manuals that come in shrinkwrap that no one ever opens.) So, we didn’t have the money for a compare-and-contrast engagement ring. (Not that I wanted one any way, getting away from that mentality was one of the reasons why I ended up in Israel.) The ring wasn’t part of the “will you marry me” performance, so it wasn’t a requirement; in fact, we picked it out together about a week after he popped the question—down on his knee, shopping with his father, who had the final say (checkbook, that is) on the ring we selected. We got a plain gold band and an engagement ring with ten small diamonds in a diagonal band. (According to Jewish law the husband must buy the wedding ring, so his parents bought the engagement ring, since he didn’t have the money for both rings.)

About seven years after we got married, when he was just starting to practice law and our older daughter was about a year on the scene, we bought a ruby and diamond ring. Well, we were still struggling, so it was a ruby and zircon ring. But it was beautiful, and I wore it instead of the wedding band and engagement ring. Then, about two years later he surprised me with a real diamond for the ring. I loved that ring. It was beautiful, it was different (designed in Italy, I will have you know), it was the one piece of jewelry that I had that made me understand how jewelry can make a woman feel as beautiful as the jewel itself.

I kept wearing that ring, even after my fortieth birthday when he bought me a bigger diamond in a platinum setting. I didn’t like that ring; I rarely wore it. It wasn’t my taste; it was his taste. It wasn’t even a compromise. He may have been trying to make me happy by giving it to me—an extravagant surprise—but it just made me feel how much we had grown apart. Not only didn’t I like it, but he got very angry when I gently tried to suggest that maybe a different setting would be more fitting. Anyway, I kept it, it was easier that way. And I wore it on occasions when we were together, but since those were getting scarcer, I hardly wore it. But the ruby and diamond, that stayed fixed on my left ring finger.

That is until one day when I divorced him in my own private ceremony by taking it off and putting it into my jewelry box, never to put it on again. It was, for me, as symbolic an act as could be. That day I ceased seeing him as my husband and so I took the ring off. I wouldn’t let any indication of his ownership of or partnership with me remain. I can’t remember exactly what happened that day that my camel’s back got broken, but I distinctly remember an argument, his insulting me (probably calling me useless or nothing, since this was his ammunition of choice) and realizing—suddenly—that I no longer consider him my husband—that he was no longer my husband. It occurred to me in a moment that a husband can’t speak to his wife that way, can’t treat his wife that way, and so, in that instant, he ceased being my husband. What a simple divorce. It took years for the details to be worked out, but those were technicalities, from the moment I took off the ring, he was no longer my husband—there was no connection between us that had any meaning, it was all extraneous.

At a meeting the other day, a woman I haven’t seen in a long time came up to me and flashed her ringless left hand at me. It was her sign that she had joined me amongst the ranks of the divorced. And boy did she look proud to be caratless.


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