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Confessions From the Past

The Chapter About Rings and Things


“I got mine when I was 14!”

“My grandma gave me mine!”

“He tooootally respects that I have one. We’re, like, totally on the same page about it.”

It was 2014, I think, when these giddy girly voices filled Joe’s Pizza in your little college town. If I recall correctly, you were there for some class at the beginning of the school year, in the hopes it’d make making friends a little easier.

This was the first time you felt that ‘stick out like a sore thumb’ thing.

“Mine is gold and I hope he gets me a gold engagement ring too because, I don’t know. I just feel like it’d be so special!” a girl named Darlene shrieked.

Who names their kid Darlene, anyway?

“OMG that would be SO cute!” everyone else cooed as you sipped on your water and smiled politely.

“What about you, where’s yours?” someone asked.

Oh shit. You choked on your water.

“Uh. I don’t have one.” I responded.

Awkward stares.

Was I SUPPOSED to have one? Was ‘HAVE PURITY RING, OR ELSE’ some kind of life requirement I’d missed?

“Mine was my mom’s!” someone shouted, taking the attention away you.

And like, am I the only one that thought that fucking weird?

Shit. Am I a slut? I’d only ever slept with one person and I’d lost my virginity only a few months prior! It hadn’t felt like the wrong decision but maybe it was? But now it was too late! You can’t just stick a ring on someone’s finger and call them a virgin if they’re not one!

I could feel my cheeks turning red and my stomach start to ache. Not only was I in this whole new place with all new people but now I was a WHORE too and I hadn’t even known it!

I stared down at each of their shiny, perfect little rings and then down again at my own hands. How could something so small carry so much weight? How I could I go from feeling perfectly fine about myself to wishing I could turn back time? If only I’d been better. Purer?

Two weeks ago, you found yourself flashing back to this memory at a nice restaurant in Chicago with your married friends.

“I cannot believe it’s only a month away!” one squealed to the other.

“Ugh, I still don’t know how I want my wedding band to look. So stressful.”

“You should do something like mine! See how I’ve got the silver AND the gold here…”

You took another big gulp of the wine you couldn’t afford and started to zone them out, something you were getting all too good at. But as they stared at the rings on their fingers, each one explaining the detail hidden within each cut and color, you looked down at your own fingers, grasping at a wine glass, as they so often had been in social gatherings like these. They looked tired, worn down from playing and teaching music everyday. They were unpainted, nails cut jaggedly in a hurry. Hang nails. No fresh manicure over here! But, perhaps the biggest difference between your own hands and those of every friend you had in this city, was the shiny diamond atop each of their left fingers.

Jesus. Another ring club I didn’t fit into.

But the thing was, you were thankful for your little beaten up, naked hands. They worked hard everyday and they stood up for what they felt was right. You could’ve had a diamond atop your left ring finger long before everyone else had theirs. But you didn’t. Not because you are defiant and independent, though you are. Not because you “have to take the high road on everything and only think about yourself.” And not because you are selfish and “need everything to be on your terms.” This is a ring club you are not a part of because everyone’s story is different and it’s not the right time, try as you have to fight and pray and wish against that.

For every night like this that has come and gone, and for the many more than are sure to come, I hope you remember that a ring does not define you. Your relationship status does not define you. Your virginity does not define you. Your page 10 may look much different than someone else’s page 10. But, someday, you’ll find someone who’s page 20 or 30 looks just like yours. And he’ll put a ring on your finger, not so you can fit into a club or social status, but because the timing is right. And he is right. In the mean time, just keep sipping on that wine with a polite smile and be a good friend.

Thank GOD we aren’t on a dry campus anymore though, am I right?