Today in therapy, although I began the session sitting on the couch like I usually do, I ultimately decided I wanted to sit on the floor.
My therapist was all for this idea. She was also all for it when I told her I’m “really starting not to care about the formula.”
We were talking about the cost of living, and of dental work, and I mentioned that, even in the face of all these necessary expenses, Doug still really wants to get me a diamond engagement ring. And I just don’t see that as a necessity, let alone a priority.
“I don’t even want a diamond,” I told her. “It’s all about whose is the biggest and the best, and who cares? And when I had one, before, when I would try to rest my face on my hand, it would poke me. What a stupid thing to spend so much money on!”
“You really sound like you know what you want,” she observed. “And I believe you when you say it.”
I shook my head. “I don’t know what I want. Remember a few weeks ago, when I was looking at all the options and told you nothing sits right? But ever since I realized I don’t know what I want, I’ve gotten a lot better about figuring out what I don’t want.”
“And you don’t want a diamond.”
“I don’t want a diamond. But Doug does – he wants the whole conventional thing, with a diamond, and a wedding…”
“Because he hasn’t been down that road before, and you have?”
“Yes. And I know what a pain and what a waste of time and money it is. But… There’s still that part of me, that little girl part, who wants a fantasy wedding, to be a princess for a day – and I do believe that this time, it would mean more and work out better than last time – but realistically? I just don’t see that fantasy connecting with our reality. And that’s ok too.”
“You don’t see the fantasy connecting. That’s huge. And I believe you,” my therapist said again. “But I want to go back to, you said something, which was surprising – or not exactly surprising, but important – about not caring about the formula?”
“Oh. Yeah. The formula, the conventions. I’ve spent the last six or eight or ten years doing nothing but caring about the formula, and it’s gotten me nowhere. I went to college – I got a degree – highest honors – and now I work in a grocery store. I got married – had the big, fancy wedding – and that didn’t work out, and it was such a waste. And… Well, maybe my pregnancy wasn’t exactly in keeping with the formula, because we weren’t married first, or trying. But still.”
“The formula hasn’t worked for you.”
“The formula has not worked for me. Fuck the formula. And fuck diamonds. I don’t want one.”
I showed her my grandma’s ring, with it’s small, imperfect (chipped) diamond, as if to say, “I already have a diamond ring and won’t be needing another one.” The story behind this ring goes like this: when my grandma was 18 (in the 1930s), she bought herself this ring to wear on her left hand so that unfit men would leave her alone. It’s hard to picture my grandma, now 94, as a hot, young, strong-willed woman, but I know that she was. And, with regards to pretending to be married so guys would leave her alone, she was decades ahead of her time. She gave the ring to me for my 16th birthday, and I’ve worn it ever since, on whichever hand strikes me as more appropriate each day.
“Do you see yourself as being similar to your grandma?” my therapist asked. “She seems to have defied convention.”
“Maybe that’s why we butted heads so much when I was a teenager,” I said.
It was an invigorating hour, sitting there on the floor, cursing conventionality and realizing that I do know what I want. And what I want is for Doug’s teeth to be fixed, because it has to happen eventually, and we’ve been putting it off for three years, and now – tens of thousands of dollars or not – now it feels like it’s so close, I can taste it.
“This dental work is my diamond ring,” I told my therapist. “This is what I’ve wanted from him – and for him – since the day we met. And – I know I’m not the one in the chair having to undergo all that torture – but I am so excited about it.”
Getting engaged is making an active commitment to building a life together. A diamond is just a symbol, a stupid, over-priced, society-told-me-to symbol, of that commitment. Why not, instead, just make the commitment and build that life together? To the tune of tens of thousands of dollars, for the reward of a beautiful and confident smile?
I came home, all fired up, and told Doug there would be no diamond. And he understood, but said he still wanted to give me a ring when he proposes, because, “How else will people know you’re all mine?” So I started poking around online and came across this one:
It’s sterling silver. It’s less than 50 bucks. And it suits us both just fine.
“But not yet,” Doug added. “Not for Christmas.”
And that suits me just fine, too.