I jolted awake in my bed. My heart raced and my hands were sweaty. It took me about 2.5 seconds to realize that it was still nighttime and that the scene that had been playing through my head for God knows how long was only a dream. Or, let’s be honest, a nightmare. And it was a nightmare that had now become familiar to me.
It always started with some normal everyday life scenario. One time we were sitting around the dinner table at my parents house. One time we were driving to church. One time we were sitting on the couch in the vacation home my family rents in the Ponocos each winter. Except in that one we were ALL (17+ of us) wearing matching fleece pajamas. If my memory serves me correctly, they were purple with little white kittens on them. The thought of that alone is enough to qualify as a nightmare. But what would start out as a relatively low key, normal dream, would turn into a disaster. In the middle of the normal every life scenarios, Adam would drop to his knee (or in some cases stand up on the table, swing from a tree branch, or pop up out of the snow) and in the most awkward of imaginable ways, he would ask me to marry him. Why is that a nightmare, you ask? Well because there were always 3 common factors in these dreams nightmares. The first was that the proposal was just…weird. Like that last thing any girl would every dream of. Or want. But the second, and much more disturbing common factor, was that the ring Adam would use to propose with was the most God awful, horrendous ring I had ever seen.
You may laugh.
And in retrospect I, too, can now laugh. Knowing that those nightmares will never be my reality. But you may think to yourself “C’mon, how bad could they have possibly been?”. I tell you, my friend, they were bad. And the third common factor in all of these nightmares was that Adam gave some super lame sentimental explanation for the god forsaken ring he had just popped the question with, so in every nightmare, I felt too guilty to tell him terrible awful it was.
The first ring he proposed with was made of out wood. Wood, I tell you. But in the nightmare Adam gave me a BS explanation of how the wood was crafted from this rare tree in the mountains of Colorado. Insert eye roll emoticon. I didn’t care how rare the wood was. It wouldn’t have mattered if the wood came from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was wood. And I’m not a hippie. The end.
The second ring was made up of a rainbow of stones. Like full on gay pride. And everywhere I went afterwards people asked me how long my wife and I had been married. This isn’t meant to make a political statement in any way…I am merely communicating exactly what happened in the dream… but I think most straight people would prefer to not constantly be asked if the were gay, just as most gay people would probably prefer to not constantly be asked if they were straight. But for some reason this engagement ring of mine beckoned the question from passerby’s everywhere I went. Adam claimed that the rainbow is a representation of God’s promise, and I was the fulfillment of God’s promise to him. So he got me a [gay] rainbow ring.
The third ring had the sterling silver (yup.) molded into two dragons. And in the middle was a crystal ball. He told me that he saw us both as a strong people who had to come together as one. The dragons represented us and the crystal ball thing represented our worlds coming together. ?!?!?!
Please tell me you are starting to understand why my heart would be racing and my hands would be sweaty when awoken in the middle of the night. But in case you aren’t there yet, I’ll continue.
Another ring hand a band that was 1.5 thick, with a .5 carat diamond in the middle. It served as a cast for my ring finger. And anytime I needed to clench my fists, hold a bag of groceries or do anything with my left hand, everyone thought I was giving them the finger. I don’t remember the sentimental reason behind this particular disaster of a ring but, I assure you, it was there. And he may or may not have had a tear in his eye while explaining the meaning of the cast ring. I believe this is the ring he proposed with when popping out of a pile of snow. So romantic, it was.
One time he proposed with a ring made from plastic. He told me earthly possessions held no eternal value, so he wanted to give me something that reminded him of his eternal commitment. And clearly, the most temporal, easy to damage, cheap, piece of junk ring that he could find was the way to communicate such an important message.
Then there was the ring with two huge multifaceted black stones, identical in size, both equally as ugly. He said he couldn’t wait to be in the dark with me. Come to think of it, that one wasn’t a sentimental reason. It was just a creepy one.
Over the course of the last 2 years, I’ve had 12-15 of these dreams. I can pretty vividly remember all of them. If I were a good artist, I would draw pictures of the rings to someday show my kids as they laugh hysterically at the thought of their father prosing in such bizarre ways.
But the worst of all the nightmares was the final one I had. It took place just 2 weeks short of when he would actually propose. It was the worst because it was the most realistic. In this dream/nightmare he proposed in a much less awkward (albeit incredibly boring) way. And the ring was not a ring that everyone would think was hideous. It had a diamond on it. And a few others around it. Quite frankly, it is a ring that I could point out in most jewelry magazines. It was a ring that had nothing wrong with it. Except that I hated it. Every part of it. It was absolutely nothing like what I wanted, and everything that I hated in gaudy, cheap looking engagement rings. I called my best friend a week after he proposed and asked her what I should do. I asked her to ask her husband what he would want her to do if they were in the same position. And his answer was that I needed to just suck it up, because he put time, effort, and money into it… and I should just be appreciative. Which, deep down, I knew was true. But I was so, so disappointed. Heartbroken, really. It made me question whether or not Adam knew me at all because the ring I was wearing on my finger was just so opposite of my personality and style. I wasn’t proud to show it to anyone. I would take it off every night and place it a small bowl on our nightstand. Some nights I would lay there as one lone tear rolled down my cheek, knowing that I didn’t HAVE to take my ring off each night, but I that I wanted to.
You see, Adam and I never really went ring shopping. I know many brides who pick the ring out themselves, or who at least give their men some really good pointers. Early on in our relationship we kinda browsed a store in Montana, but I didn’t see anything I liked. When we were shooting weddings, I made a point to subtly mention how pretty the brides ring was if I really liked it, but I knew Adam was not the type to want help. And mine and Adam’s style is quite different. So the nightmares continued, unwelcomed, until that last one that was so real. I felt as though that one happened to prepare me for what was to come. I had my reaction down, I mentally practiced my facial expressions, and I kept reminding myself that it was just a piece of jewelry. It isn’t something I can take with me after life on earth is done. And when it came down to it, it did not mater. What mattered was that I would spend my life with a wonderful man. And the last thing I wanted was to show him how disappointed I was.
So it should come as no shock to you that as soon as Adam dropped to his knee at South Street Seaport, I covered my face and my eyes. I didn’t plan on that happening. It was just instinct. But a few seconds in, as he was uttering words that I don’t remember, I realized I had been covering my eyes because I was afraid of what the ring might look like. I took a breath and slowly peeked through my fingers.
Much to my surprise (and relief and delight and shock and happiness and every other synonym of those words), I saw just inches from me the most beautiful, perfect ring I had ever seen it my life. It was everything…everything…that I wanted. Exactly. From the size to the cut to the band to the setting. It was beautiful. And I was speechless. I could tell just by looking at it that he had spent way more than I ever expected or thought he would and really, truly, made a sacrifice to make me feel extremely special and to give me a ring that I can now proudly pass down to the generations that will follow me. So looking back now, I can laugh heartedly over those silly nightmares I had. But more than looking back, I enjoy looking down. And a bit to the left. Because therein sits a ring. My ring. The ring that sums me up in a piece of jewelry. And I can smile knowing that Adam really did put a lot of thought and effort into this. And, apparently, the subtle hints were not in vain.
So, friends, I give you…my ring….