The best Christmas gift I have ever received was also the worst one. But only because I ruined it. After Black Friday shopping with my mom who had been looking at the jewelry case in Macy’s for a good 2 hours and walked away with 2 new rings, after telling me that we were spending too much money as is and couldn’t get a third, the one I liked the most, I asked to look through our bags as my dad drove us home. Picking up a little square velvet box thinking it was the tanzanite my mother had picked out, I instead opened it to find a dark blue sapphire, surrounded by tiny pointed diamonds. I instantly knew I had made a mistake and quietly put the box back. I faked surprise opening it on Christmas day okay, I guess, but I made it lose some of that magic my mother (usually an expert secret keeper, she bluffed her way through that secret transaction right under my nose) worked so hard to keep. Since then I have never gone for very long without that ring on my finger. Not even when I received the tanzanite as a birthday present several years later.
Yesterday looking at my significantly puffier fingers I debated whether I should take the ring off. After a year of sub-consciously ducking realistically unflattering mirrors and avoiding the bathroom scale, I took a deep breath and thought to myself, Prove it. Prove that you didn’t fuck it all up. All the weight you had lost two years ago. Prove you didn’t gain it back and then gain the same amount you lost on top of it. Just take the ring off. And put it back on. I used a bit of soap and cold water, twisting slowly. Using more soap, twisting slowly.
I tugged, and tugged, and tugged. But no matter what I did I couldn’t get it more than halfway to that first knuckle. As it sat there at the widest part of my finger which it clearly didn’t fit anymore, I could feel it start to restrict the blood flow. Feel my finger begin to tense and puff up with lack of circulation. In short, I only succeeded in making my finger swell even more. I finally went upstairs and asked my dad to help. After a little bit more effort, it was decided I had made the swelling so bad there was no way it would happen – if it would even have without that. I was told to ice it and wait for my mom to come home. I broke into tears. My dad told me to calm down and said it was ok and it wasn’t stuck forever; we’d get it off some how.
I wasn’t afraid of having to wear the ring. I was afraid of having to take it off. I was afraid of asking my mother to help me. I was afraid I’d have to shamefully ask to get it resized. All because I had gained weight. Later that night, my mom wedged a pair of pliers beneath the white gold band and snapped the soft metal in two. She pulled the ring wider and with only a little less difficulty tugged it off. Isn’t it funny how one of the softest metals can still have jagged edges? How sometimes the softest things can hurt you the most? The raw cut gold cut a small length of about a two centimeters on the underside of my finger. It was just a small scratch.
But I feel it. I feel it when I close my fingers to hold a pen. I feel it when I make a fist. Painless but twinging. I look down at my hand and feel the ghost of 7 years. A white band of skin unmarked by the sun. Most of all, I look down and see this defeat. Something so small that seems like so much. An empty mirror, a little bit of blood, and gold. Just a broken ring and a cut that breaks more than skin-deep. It isn’t much at all.