There were three diamonds to choose from.
The Philadelphia transplant was teaching me about stone clarity and inclusions in the back of his Florida jewelry store.
My girlfriend wanted a pear-cut diamond. I loved that, because I don’t like doing the same things as other people.
I spent a lot of time with the loupe—a small magnification device used to inspect gems—studying the three diamonds from which I would choose the centerpiece for her engagement ring.
This is an important decision. After all, a diamond is forever.
I made poverty wages as a 23-year-old cub reporter at a mid-sized daily newspaper. I was getting friend-prices from Sully—the owner and jeweler who looked a lot like Donald Sutherland. Sully liked me. We’d met months earlier when I’d written a nice little feature on him and his business partner.
It was probably unethical to accept his generosity. But I couldn’t afford not to.
I went through several catalogs, seeking the perfect band. And I thought I found it.
A delicate, diamond-studded band. Combined with the pear-shaped diamond, it looked like poetry.
Customized poetry written just for my future bride.
One of a kind.
Sully was accustomed to dealing with all the rich people that live up and down Florida’s Gulf Coast.
I wasn’t one of them.
He agreed to a layaway deal with me.
Month after month, with my unsuspecting girlfriend occasionally picking fights with me about my failure to commit, I was stopping in the store to make $200 or $300 payments on her ring.
I wanted to propose to her on the Fourth of July, because that is the holiday I associated with her as we’d first gotten together around the Fourth two years prior.
She and I were going to spend a day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. That’s where I would do it.
I just had to make sure I paid for the ring on time.
Eleven Years Later
I was having dinner with a pretty girl. A dinner I’ve made dozens of times for my friends.
For my wife.
I’m picking myself up. Dusting myself off. This is part of the process.
My phone rang in my pocket. I pulled it out to see who it was.
Every good feeling I had went away. Because I still haven’t deprogrammed myself of 12 years with her. It still feels instinctively wrong to be with someone else. Like she caught me doing something bad.
Plus, we share a child. He’s the most-important person in my life. What if she needs me? What if my son needs me?
But, I just couldn’t. I didn’t have it in me to look someone in the eye who was kind enough to join me for dinner and tell her I was going to spend a few minutes on the phone with my ex-wife.
I ignored the call.
I ignored a text message.
Which is really bad form and not consistent with how I’ve tried to treat my son’s mom.
I wonder what she wanted?
I had no idea.
If it’s important, I guess I’ll find out.
It was Easter Sunday last year when my son and I returned home in the mid-afternoon hours to my wife.
We’d taken a road trip to visit family on the other side of the state. She declined to make the trip with us. I’d spent the weekend lying to my grandparents and mother and aunts and uncles, telling them that everything was fine.
She sat on the living room floor with our—at the time—four-year-old son.
I sat on one of the couches and gave her a rundown from the weekend.
And that’s when I noticed she wasn’t wearing her ring.
I almost vomited.
I did later that night.
The observation stopped me mid-sentence. I never finished the thought and I can’t remember what I was telling her.
Just the naked ring finger.
“You’re not wearing your ring,” I whispered, because I couldn’t find my voice.
She told me it was because she was cleaning and she’d taken it off and had simply forgot to put it back on.
Later that night, she told me she was leaving.
The next day, she kept her promise.
Thirty Pieces of Silver
I sent a text apologizing. I don’t think it’s cool to be unavailable. But I’m not always cool. I still feel this insane awkwardness mixing dating and communicating with my ex-wife.
I really was sorry.
“It’s fine,” she said. All she wanted to do was talk to me about taxes… and selling our rings.
I’m allowed to keep mine, if I want.
But the agreement was to sell hers, she said. Split the money.
I wonder what it means that I can still hurt. I wonder what I can do to stop that from happening.
I’m Gonna Be Late to the Pity Party
I’ve been listening to Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 pretty much non-stop for the past couple weeks.
It took me a surprisingly long time to figure out how much I identified with the track “Stronger Than I Was.”
My friend—a great one—took time out of his busy life to send me that album a couple weeks ago.
Part of me thinks he wanted me to listen to this song more than any other. He’s smart and observant like that.
It’s been on repeat all day today.
I don’t like feeling angry.
More importantly, I don’t like that she has the power to make me feel angry.
Despite my many, many fuck ups throughout the course of our relationship, I always feel like I’ve gone above and beyond trying to be sensitive to her feelings.
And I continue to feel like I just keep getting metaphorical dicks in the ass for my efforts.
But, the problem is not hers.
She doesn’t have the power to make me angry.
I give her the power to make me angry.
You might remember me saying that I’m going to stop doing things that make me unhappy. Well, this is one of those things that is making me unhappy.
And it’s time to wash my hands of it.
Go ahead and take your ring. Sell the shit out of it. Enjoy your 30 pieces of silver.
Because I don’t want your fucking blood money.
You walked out, I almost died
It was almost a homicide that you caused cause I was so traumatized
Felt like I was in for a long bus ride
I’d rather die than you not by my side
Can’t count how many times I vomited, cried
Go to my room, turn the radio on and hide,
Thought we were Bonnie and Clyde
No, on the inside you were Jekyll and Hyde I
Felt like my whole relationship with you was a lie
It was you and I, why did I think it was ride or die?
Cause if you could’ve took my life you would’ve
It’s like you put a knife to my chest and pushed it right through to the
Other side of my back and stuck a spike, too, should’ve
Put up more of a fight, but I couldn’t at the time
No one could hurt me like you could’ve
Take you back now, what’s the likelihood of that?
Bite me, bitch, chew on a nineteen footer
Cause this morning I finally stood up
Held my chin up, finally showed a sign of life in me for the
First time since you left me and left me with nothing but shattered dreams
And a life we could’ve had and we could’ve been
But I’m breaking out of this slump I’m in
Pulling myself out of the dumps once again
I’m getting up once and for all, fuck this shit
I’mma be late for the pity party
But you’re never gonna beat me to the fucking punch again
Took it on the chin like a champ so don’t lump me in with the chump-ions
I’m done being your punching bag…
But you won’t break me
You’ll just make me stronger than I was
Before I met you, I bet you I’ll be just fine without you
And if I stumble, I won’t crumble
I’ll get back up and uhhh
And I’mma still be humble when I scream fuck you
Cause I’m stronger than I was