Friday, December 18, 2009

Diamonds Are Forever

Back when I was at BYU, surrounded by the newly-engaged and happily-married, I made fun of those women who, after acquiring a diamond ring, couldn't stop staring at it, talking about it, or subtly (or not-so-subtly) flaunting it, women like the first responder in this question, who confused the size of their diamond with the size of their husband's love, who fell for the evil diamond industry's marketing ploys, who encouraged their fiances to blow their meager savings/sell their cars/go into debt all for the sake of something sparkly on their finger. I was above all that, and not shy about saying it: in my first-year German class, when all the other girls (freshmen, no less) could describe their perfect engagement ring in great detail (diamond, of course!), I announced, to the gasps of my classmates, that I didn't want an engagement ring at all, and I certainly didn't want a diamond: as I outlined in my answer to that question, diamond rings come with unnecessary costs, financial and otherwise, and I'd rather have something on my finger that didn't have me humming Kanye West (Though it's thousands of miles away/ Sierra Leone connect to what we go through today) and dreaming of armless children in mines.

Well, once again, I have to eat my words. (I sure have been doing a lot of this lately: I'm smart and majored in the humanities and don't really know what I want to do with my life, so I'm applying to law school. Helloooooo, stereotypes!) I held my ground on the engagement ring--a feminist point for me; since the man is not expected to wear one, an engagement ring feels to me like a symbol of possession--but, dear readers, I have a diamond wedding ring. And, even more shameful: I love it.

My ring is simple, as diamond affairs go, with six small rectangular-cut diamonds set into a white-gold band.
The band isn't as shiny as it should be--in some lights it looks less white gold and more gold gold--and the diamonds don't sparkle quite like they should, mostly because they're set crookedly. Most people who asked to see my ring smiled and made more-or-less tactful comments like "It's very you," or "That's a cute box it came in!", and they were right: it is very me. (And it came in a super-cute box, too.)

And where did we find this perfect ring with super-cute box? At a pawn shop in Reno. That's right: we were having trouble finding rings we liked--at one jewelry store, I tried on a diamond ring, grimaced, and asked, "Do you have anything less shiny?"--and so, just as we were wondering whether or not we'd have to get rings custom-made ("are we really such bitches?" I asked), Mike pointed out that we'd be visiting his grandmother in Reno two weeks before the wedding, and where, really, is there a larger selection of used wedding rings than Reno's main drag?

So we found parking near one of the main casinos, and walked down the street, which consisted mainly of pawn shops, casinos, and wedding chapels. We browsed four or five pawn shops, each of which held more wedding rings than I thought existed in the entire world, and tried to avoid looking at the handgun displays, which were often right next to the rings--just in case you've made a huge, tiny mistake, I guess? (Downtown Reno is seriously one-stop shopping: you can make some money, buy a ring, get married, get drunk, get divorced, and shoot your ex, all in one afternoon.) As we walked between pawn shops, we saw a couple fighting, loudly, with lots of swearing, about who was drunker, and surreptitiously checked out their rings. We also watched the police break up a violent fight outside a casino, the true Reno experience.

And that's why I really love my ring: not only is it pretty (at least to me), it was cheap (the best way to show love for me is by not spending money), and used (which means I don't have ethical worries about the diamonds), and its crooked and slightly chipped diamonds remind me of that afternoon slumming in Reno pawn shops, and, in turn, of how lucky I am to have found a man who matches me so perfectly it's kind of unbelievable, a man who shares my ideas about romance (he didn't propose, I arranged our honeymoon, and his idea of seduction is saying "I seduce thee"), compromise (rock-paper-scissors), adventure (camels across North Africa? sign me up!), crossword puzzles in bed (yes), traditional gender roles (no), and paying attention in church (maybe)--in short, a man who would buy his fiancee a wedding ring from a pawn shop in Reno. That, my friends, is well worth eating a word or two.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bless Me, Santa, For I Have Sinned

I have a confession to make: my mother-in-law sent us some Christmas gifts last week, with strict instructions not to open them until Christmas, and what did we do? We opened them.

(Confession #2: I still can't say "mother-in-law" without doing a tiny internal double-take. I mean, seriously, a mother-in-law? I'm not used to that.)

Back to the matter at hand: Christmas. I think most newlyweds, at least those with blogs, are supposed to be excited for their First Everything: Our First Thanksgiving Together, Our First Apartment, Our First Fight About the Dishes. And, sure, we've got some good firsts--Our First Kiss was pretty awesome, for instance--but neither of us are big holiday people. Our First Halloween was spent eating bags of candy corn and watching The Wire. Costumes? Parties? Please. Celebrations are for people who aren't hooked on the best show ever to have been on TV.

So it's not like anyone expected us to be Christmasy, right? We'll be traveling for the holiday itself, so we haven't bothered with a tree, and even though we have an entire box full of Christmas ornaments and decorations (thanks, Mom!), right now it just seems like too much work to put them up, especially if, come two weeks, we won't be around to enjoy them.

(Should I make another confession? It also seems weird to put up Christmas decorations when our apartment has no decorations at all. That's right: bare walls, baby. I've been in this apartment for four months now and the only thing I've hung is a calendar--a cheap calendar I got for free at a bookstore, no less. Clearly, I am a failure as a homemaker. But hey, my way means fewer ways to damage the walls of a rented apartment. Plus, fewer fights about whether to hang my batik cloth and schwa paintings or Mike's posters. Everybody wins.)

Anyway, while it's like me to not get into the holiday spirit, it's not like me to open presents early; I was a child who never, never, went looking for Christmas presents, even though I knew perfectly well where they were hidden. I was a child who ate all the oat bits of Lucky Charms before the marshmallows. I was a child who saved Halloween candy for years. In other words, Delayed Gratification was my middle name.

But I'm married now, and so I have put away childish things in the name of marital harmony. When Mike suggested that we open the presents right away, I argued with him but eventually gave in. Or, okay, I eventually lost the 3rd round of rock-paper-scissors. (Should that be another confession? That we resolve disagreements with rock-paper-scissors instead of reasoned, intelligent discussions?)

In any case, maybe Mike was right: we had a great little pre-Christmas Christmas, which got us a little bit more in the holiday mood, and now we don't have to worry about traveling with too many. So I'll end with my final Christmas confession: I opened presents early and enjoyed it. How many Hail Rudolphs do I have to say for that?