As we inch closer to our anniversary, it made me think about our "ring stories" again, and how blessed I feel. I was just telling my friend about our second set of rings and how they came to be when we decided to reunite. Scott wrote about it in his post, "Is it Worth It?" I felt like pulling that excerpt out and sharing it again because it makes me feel so grateful and happy as I look down at my wedding ring finger.....
From IS IT WORTH IT by Scott Hathcock
"Despite the number of possible openings for us to start again, I also didn’t lose faith because I also could not get an image out of my mind. In fact, the image was memory-like in its clarity and was permanently burned into my mind. It was so clear that I had even wondered if I had seen it in a movie. Perhaps I had seen it and replaced the movie actors in my reimagining with my own family of four. For a few months, I even sought out to find which movie had tortured me so that I could simply dismiss it and let that dream die, but I never found it.
For the sake of keeping somethings sacred and private, I won’t go into the details and location of what this future scene entails. I will only say it is the beautiful day that Kiersten and I, along with our children, will ceremoniously renew our wedding vows. I do not pretend to know the timing of this specific event, as I’ve stated, I’ve learned to be patient.
Ironically, here is some timing that did come as a surprise. Upon Kiersten and I officially deciding we were FOR SURE going to get back together—meaning moving back in as a family and going public with our relationship—we ran off with one another for a quick getaway trip. This was not us “eloping” as we had never filed anything during our separation, we were/are still legally married. It was time to just get out and have some fun.
We had a great few days together. I could also see in her a “joy” that had been lost over the past years. She was silly again. She sang. She danced. Being together again was both familiar but new at the same time. It was exciting and comfortable. I could still see some of the pain and sorrow in her eyes at times, but I could also see that her true light was returning. We sometimes even refer to these three years of our separation and her being away as “her captivity in North Korea” (a 30 Rock reference to Jack Donaghy’s wife Avery Jessup, 26th episode of the sixth season). Needless to say, it was a fantastic trip. As we are driving home, we stopped at a P.F. Cheng’s restaurant just north of town. Still making googly eyes at one another and not really still believing we were where we were (figuratively speaking) in our lives, she says,
“Hey, what would you think about getting rings, again?”
“Seriously? Ok,” I responded, but at the same time knowing that P.F. Cheng’s was NOT the location of our renewing vows nor did any of this feel familiar in my predictions.
“Yes,” she said excitedly, “Where can we go around here to get rings?”
Kiersten and I were kids when we met. We were both living in Charlotte, North Carolina at the time. She was fresh out of Ohio University and had landed in Charlotte essentially because it was a straight shot down I-77 South. I had been out of college now for a few years, living in a house with a bunch of guys, and working for a professional speaker and company that trained professionals in public speaking.
I got a call one night from a friend and she invites me out to join her and some of her friends at Vinnies’ Sardine Bar. I decided to go last minute even though I was going alone and not being surrounded by my wingmen. It was the best decision. Kiersten was one of her friends joining us that evening. Our shared friend had invited two friends that evening, Kiersten and some other dude. By arrangement, it looked as though Kiersten was with him, and I was with our shared friend. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her. There was just something so captivating. Right now, I even struggle to put words on paper to surmise what that “thing” is that so beautiful and immediately drew me in. All I can say is that it is simply “Kiersten.”
Over cheese sticks and beer, we talked that evening. Very quickly we learned that neither was with the other of our friends. When we parted that night from Vinnie’s I remember standing in the parking lot with her and struggling to let her go and say goodnight.
Upon arrival back at my house, my roommates inquired where I had been. Without hesitation or even preconceived thought I said,
“I just met the girl I’m going to marry.”
Fast forward four months later, Kiersten and I are sitting in my parent’s den on a Sunday afternoon. We are looking to leave soon and take the seven-hour drive back to Charlotte when I lean over and whisper in her ear,
“Can I please tell them what we did?”
She just laughs at me knowing that she had kept it a secret to her friends and family, but now I was about to make it public to my parents. She gave me a “yes” nod and smirk that said, “I knew you couldn’t keep it a secret for long.”
I began, “Mom…. Dad, Kiersten and I have been looking at rings.”
My announcement immediately drew cheers of support and even an “it’s about time” from my dad (keep in mind we had only been dating for four months). The excitement in the air was palpable. Before we knew it both sets of grandparents and even an aunt and uncle were on their way over to the house to celebrate. Kiersten and I were sent to the grocery store to go buy champagne, but for what? Because we had looked at rings?
On our return to my parent’s house, as we made our way up the front stairs, and with a bag of groceries in my arms, I stopped her.
“Kiersten, will you marry me?”
She said yes. Now, we truly had something to celebrate.
We decided that same day to not drive home that evening. We also determined that we needed rings and so we both asked, “Where can we go around here to get rings?”
As it turned, out the only jewelry store in town had sold two generations of Hathcock men our wedding rings. It was a perfect place. And, for a majority of 18 years the rings served us well. Two or three months into our separation, we hit a financial crisis. Although the rings symbolized a history, it was clear their monetary value outweighed their emotional value at the time and so we sold them—both wedding rings and Kiersten's engagement ring—in order to pay rent.
Now, almost 20 years later, we needed new rings. There was an outlet mall just one exit down with a jewelry store. Here we were again looking at rings. But, this time something snapped in both of us. Why would we ever spend or make payments on the kind of money we dropped on rings when we were young? So, after realizing these symbolic rings of our new commitment were going to cost us upwards of thousands of dollars, we left that jewelry store and headed to a nearby Kohl’s. Two-hundred and fifty dollars later, we found ourselves wearing new silver bands and she got the “diamond” shape and size that she wanted.
Sufficed to say, this occurrence along with the actual carat weight, cut, color and clarity had not played into my future vision of us renewing our vows. But, this moment had also not interfered with its future potential to unfold either. We simply just let it happen. It was a wonderful moment we shared in time together just off I-17.
Now, with rings on our fingers there wasn’t much anyone could say to our faces; although, some of our acquaintances were shocked to learn we were actually married. Honestly, after year two, most of my circle of support had pretty much given up on me anyway by then. I was truly blessed to have such a network of support and advisors. I can’t thank them enough. In the end, my own intuition had clarified my course and I even learned to muffle the noise of naysayers and online chatter. I have learned that everyone knows both everything and nothing. You simply have to trust your own gut or you’ll get lost in chasing what is right for someone else.
I have also learned in life that nothing is a “done deal” but more of a process. I will do my best to watch that dashboard and keep myself in check. I have learned to be less judgmental of others in relationships too. From the outside, you just never know what is truly going on in a relationship. They are complicated, but what isn’t that is worth it...."