Keep it real

[Professor Hood’s] researchers convince the pre-school-age subjects that their special item will be put into a machine that can produce a copy of the object which is identical in every way. The infants, who are offered the choice of having the original or the “perfect” copy returned to them, strongly prefer the original.BBC, 2004

Every once in a while, when I’m writing longer pieces, my fingers seem to swell, and I take off my wedding ring. It’s something of a pause to collect my thoughts as well, and a minute or so later, I slip the ring back on because I’m worried that I might lose it.

Before Wife and I got engaged, we were fake engaged for a while. Or, I know that I was. We’d only been together for about a year when we moved in together. She had sold her apartment wanted us to take a really nice, long trip somewhere with the money she had made so we took a trip to Mexico. For a week, we traveled around the Yucatan peninsula in an air-conditioned bus with an active group of mostly retired people.

Been there.

We rode the bus and we looked out the window, we read books, and stayed at nice hotels – and every once in a while, we made stops at the perfect Mexican places. Some of them were old, others even older. We climbed Chichen Itza – or “chicken pizza” as the helpful Mexicans called it to make it easier for tourists – we got hit by tropical rain on top of another pyramid, and we saw a hummingbird.

At night, after we’d arrived in a new city, we bought souvenirs: colorful mexican blankets, a wooden head of a god (I think), T-shirts, photos, and a pair of boots, to name a few. And then we bought the rings. They were possibly made of silver, but they had Mexican symbols on them for sure.

Wife and I often refer to our own “Stockholm subway” rule when thinking of buying souvenirs. If the answer to the question, “Do you really see yourself wearing that on the Stockholm subway?” is yes, you can buy it.

So, no sombrero.

The boots haven’t been on the subway many times, either, but the rings passed the test with flying colors. The rings made it to the subway, to the office, to the gym, and to the grocery store.

That winter, I had come home from the grocery store when I realized I wasn’t wearing my ring. Positive that I had had it on when I had left the apartment, I drove back to the grocery store. I was lucky enough to get the exact same parking spot I had had a half hour earlier so I could retrace my steps in, through, and out of the store.

“Then I went here … not here, I picked up the bread … not here … and why would it be there, I never took it off … it must be outside…,” I muttered.

Then I realized that the ring had probably just dropped off my finger. It was cold, my fingers had gotten a little thinner, and I hadn’t even noticed that I had lost the ring. I decided that it must be outside, somewhere around the car. I walked around the car, I looked into the trunk, and I kicked the snow behind the car a little.

No ring.

I was desperate, angry, disappointed, and stubborn all at once. Cars came and went around me, the store was closing, but I didn’t want to give up so I combed the area around the car inch by inch. And then the spot next to it. Then I drove the car to the adjacent spot and aimed the headlights at the original spot to see better.

And there, buried in the slush, was my ring. I put it on and drove home to tell Wife the good news.

Two years later, when we lived in Helsinki, I took a moment to collect my thoughts at the gym, I guess. I was doing sit-ups, holding a weight in my hands and my fingers felt swollen. I took off my ring, and put it on the floor next to me.

Five minutes later, I got up, showered, and walked home.

Fifteen minutes later, I ran back to the gym to look for the ring, but it was gone. I walked around the gym, I asked the janitor, I looked everywhere, but I couldn’t find the ring.

I felt like an idiot.

Some time later, possibly for Xmas, Wife bought me a new silver ring, with a Mexican pattern on it. I wore it proudly for years, until we got married and got our wedding rings and Wife took our Mexican rings and put them into a red, heart-shaped box to rest.

The other day, we talked about the Mexican rings, and I reminded her of how I had lost mine.

“That’s right. I had forgotten all about it,” she said.

“But then I got you a new one, right? It was exactly like the first one,” she added, and smiled.

“Well,” I said. It hadn’t been exactly like the one I had had, but it was close. On the other hand, the second one was a gift from her.

“Yeah. Or even better,” I said.

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