It was a really lovely afternoon of caffeine and conversation, and I had been over the moon to see him. While seated at Bridgehead, he said:
“I have a gift for you…” and he pulled out a ring.
In a split second, my heart jumped into my throat, I re-named our children, re-invited our guests and seated them, confirmed the venue (difficult as I wish to elope), re-clocked the Maldive Islands as our honeymoon spot, my hair started to frizz and I started peeing all over the Bridgehead chair until he finished his sentence with “…it’s from (insert name of his niece, who shall here remain protected). She wanted to make sure I gave it to you.”
It was a massive Cracker Jack gold band with emerald stone ring.
Really quite proud of himself, he suggested “You should wear it. She’d love to know you wore it,” to which I responded with my own suggestion of “You should blow it out your ass”, only it sounded like a hysterical “OF COURSE! IT’S SO PRETTY! I CAN’T WAIT! SHE’S SO SWEET! I CAN’T WAIT TO WEAR THIS FALSE GOLD RING THAT WILL TURN MY FINGER GREEN AND THAT A SECOND AGO I THOUGHT WAS REAL AND THAT YOU WERE PROPOSING AT BRIDGEHEAD AND NOW I AM TOTALLY AGAIN SOLID ON WHAT I WANT TO NAME THE CHILDREN, ANY TAKERS?!” wild-eyeing the queer/homosexual/gay (whichever you prefer) male couple next to us, imploring one of them to turn str8 and save me.
By the way, just so you know I am not a complete psychotic — before our break-up, he had spoken to my father and explained his intention with me was marriage. We had in fact named our children as a game because we are dumb and way to pave the road to relationship death, Kittens.
The rest of the coffee sitch didn’t go as well as one might otherwise imagine. But for my suddenly frizzed hairstylings and wide unblinking eyes, I was outwardly as cool as a cucumber, but internally couldn’t wait to get the fuck away from him so that I might call my Break-Up Buddy** and WTF? into the phone.
Extremely grateful to be rid of him, we said our goodbyes after he (also) gave me a book and some cake which he had baked. Quickly, I dashed across the street and pretended to be going somewhere, only I really had nowhere to be but on the phone. I walked around for a little bit clutching the ring in one hand, and the book in the other, along with the tupperware filled with cake. Honestly, and though the break-up had gutted me something fierce, I still had such deep hope and love in my heart that that moment at Bridgehead had tapped into both and left me spinning; walking around trying to catch my breath, I concentrated on making a pile of my once-more shattered heart so that no pieces would go missing forever.
It started raining so I took shelter at the top of the steps you see in the image. Then, I rang my Break-Up Buddy and fell into a heaping mess of tears. She let me cry until I could speak, and then she let me get angry. Because who in their right mind pulls out a ring and gives it to the woman with whom they — just weeks before — had been discussing marriage? From niece or not?
In my rage, I threw the tupperware and its contents into the bushes on the left of the photo, and tried to rip the book only I could not because I was holding the phone in one hand and still crying so very like a little weakling. Frustrated, I opted to also throw it at the bushes — it landed atop the reddish one like a sad little hat. Staring at the book-hat, I thought: “I gave him my heart and he gave me a fucking book and some shitty cake that is probably healthy and tastes like drywall and cardboard because he’s an asshole and that’s how assholes bake.” (Thank you, Say Anything).
In the rain, and after finishing with my Break-Up Buddy, I stayed sitting at the top of the steps to watch as a man grabbed for both the book-hat and the tupperware. No doubt, he put them to better use.
I kept the ring for a while after this because it was from an innocent, but I eventually recycled it as I am not a big fan of collecting sentimental items when the sentiment is no more. Instead, I prefer to collect and reshape stories from pain to humor and learning of which this is another that ends with ‘thank you, passage of time’.
**Break-up Buddy: Someone who is your go-to as you are going through a break-up. An absolute rock who you can call at all hours of the day and night if only to sob into the receiver and know they are using their hands as cups to catch your tears. Highly recommended. Also highly recommended is that you bake them cookies once you are over the individual with whom the break-up has occurred. Just make sure you don’t bake like an asshole.