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I chose my engagement ring on the Fourth of July while my boyfriend and neighbors were celebrating in our shared courtyard.
My boyfriend had been gently urging me to pick out a ring for several months. This time, there was a colorful sunset and the mood was festive, so when my boyfriend mentioned the ring I was supposed to be picking out, I went inside, searched Etsy for a while, and emailed him a link.
About 10 days later, I was engaged.
When I first became friends with my fiance at our shitty retail job, he was a year or so out from a tumultuous long-term relationship, the kind where they broke up and got back together two or three times.
This experience had left him with a poor view of commitment, and when we started dating, he made sure I knew he didn’t believe in marriage.
This was not a problem for me — I wanted to be with him whether he believed in marriage or not. Although we were committed to each other, never straying, never breaking up for even a night, I was surprised when he pushed for the ring.
In retrospect, I suspect that he noticed I was slipping away from him. Being with him was challenging and while I was willing to do it then, I wasn't sure how long I could continue.
My fiancé suffered from an anxiety disorder and agoraphobia. I thought that I understood and could handle it because I get anxious too, about irrational things.
Then he stopped getting out of bed. One night I got ready to attend his friend’s wedding while he watched from under the covers.
“Are we going?” I asked him. He did not get up. I crumpled into the armchair in my cocktail dress and read a book instead.
He soon received another diagnosis: bipolar disorder. The treatment was trial and error cocktails of drugs. A tenuous equilibrium was found with the a combination of medication but the phobias and anxiety were a fact: open spaces, heights, crowds, harsh lighting. Airplanes, beaches and grocery stores were off-limits. The isolation I felt within our small apartment was enormous.
But back to the ring — it was delicate, vintage art deco, white gold and with an illusion setting to make the three small diamonds appear larger than they really were. It cost less than $400, which is a steal for an engagement ring, and was still the most beautiful thing I’d ever worn.
But for some reason, I could never get it to fit my finger. I had it resized twice to no avail. The diamond setting would always slide backward toward my palm.
Playing with the ring became my new tick. I was constantly twisting it back and forth. It just would not stay put.
I didn’t know how to deal with this new fixture on my body. The brilliance of the diamonds was always getting obscured by a film of hand lotion. Do I keep it on or take it off while I wash my hands and shower?
After forgetting to put it on after a shower and panicking until I found it on my bathroom tray, I decided that the right thing to do was to never take it off.
On the night I lost my ring, I got into bed next to my fiancé, who was reading with his lamp on. I had just taken a shower. I do this at night because my hair takes a long time to dry and I am not a morning person. I would never wake up early enough to wash my hair, let alone blow-dry it.
When I bent my thumb to twist my ring around for the hundredth time that day, I realized it wasn’t there.
“I don’t have my ring on,” I said as calmly as I could. We both got out of bed and looked all over the room for the ring. But my heart sank.
I knew what had happened. I had washed my hair and leaned my head over the toilet in our tiny bathroom while I quickly combed the tangles out with my fingers. I had then peed, flushed, and gotten into bed.
It is a terrible feeling to know that you flushed your engagement ring down the toilet.
Even though it was an accident, it was the result of my decision to keep the ring on and I could only blame myself.
We didn’t break up because I lost my engagement ring, but it remained a sore topic. I looked, but I didn’t find an affordable ring that I liked as much as the one I lost. Friends and co-workers asked why I wasn’t wearing my ring.
“Did you get rid of the boy?” one co-worker asked.
I didn’t like to tell people that I lost my engagement ring when they asked to see it. I felt it made me seem careless, which I am not. And I definitely didn’t want to reveal that I flushed it down the toilet.
When I broke it off, we had been engaged for almost two years and were not much closer to getting married than when I lost the ring.
While we didn't break up because of my ring, and I didn't lose it on purpose, in retrospect it seems like something of a bad omen. The whole thing has made me a little superstitious.
I got engaged to my fiance because I believed I was doing the right thing. And I left my fiance because it was the right thing, for both of us.