Thursday, December 3, 2009

With This Ring

New York just voted down my right to marry in my own state. I got my rings back from being resized at the jewelers that same day. It is all bittersweet, and I'm trying to be zen about it; goodness knows I am entirely surrounded by people who are as upset by the injustice as I am. My marriage in Massachusetts is still recognized by my state, but sheesh, that feels a little hollow.

So here are our beautiful rings. The kids love to fondle them and talk about how sparkly they are and love to ask what they are for, knowing that the answer never changes. "Our wedding rings mean that Mommy and Mama will love each other for ever, and our family will always be here for you." This always dissolves them into snuggly puddles. Me too, frankly.

Homestead Mama's beloved Grandma Lillian was from Little Rock, Arkansas. She had a long and slightly daring career as a gymnastic dancer in New York City in a time when that was quite risque. She was very clear about the fact that she WAS NOT a stripper - she had some sexy pictures taken of herself that she said were posted outside the club to lure people in, but when she danced she was more modestly covered.

Lillian, 1926

Her best friend for decades was Harvey a female impersonator - one can only presume that he was gay since he tended to 'impersonate' even in his off-stage hours. There is an amazing photographic history of both of them, and we are still wading through it. When I met Grandma Lillian for the first time, she said, "Well, thank goodness Homestead Mama finally brought home a blonde." When Lillian died earlier this year, Homestead Mama brought home a car full of things deemed not valuable by other family members. Lots of things the kids would like - many boxes of note cards with envelopes to practice playing postal carrier, music boxes, old perfume bottles, and box after box of costume jewelry. I went through it all looking for safety hazards and junky things to toss. On a safety pin amongst a bunch of plastic and corroded metal rings was a dull metal band. It was unassuming and delicate, and so fine and tiny that it didn't even go all the way down my pinky. Upon closer investigation I noticed an inscription that required a magnifying glass. Expecting it to read: "Made by Avon 1953" I was surprised to see initials, the date 1914, and Plat 800/Irid 200. Hmmm. Hello, Google - platinum used to be mixed with iridium around the turn of the century. And with one fell swoop, H-Mama was the owner of the only family heirloom she'll probably ever get. She was thrilled that we hadn't given the kids - or worse, tossed out - her grandmother's wedding ring worth hundreds of dollars and a million more in sentimental value. We bought her a second ring - a little bling - from a local lesbian-owned jewelry store. They are balanced perfectly, completely suitable for my tough-on-the-outside, Martha Stewart-loving, hard-labor loving wife.

My maternal grandmother, Phyllis, was widowed in her 60s and her friends convinced her to have the diamonds from her engagement ring turned into a less-intimidating-to-potential-suitors cocktail ring. (At least this is how I remember the story. My mom will correct me in the comments if I am mistaken.) When Phyllis died, my mom inherited the ring.

Grandma Sharon with ring in her glory with Monito, October 2007
(oh my god the PUDGE on him!)

I have coveted it and loved it ever since - it is uncommon, a little fancy but far from gaudy. My mother intended to leave it to me in her will, but was gracious enough to let me use it for my own wedding after an exhaustive and unsuccessful search on my part for the perfect ring. With it, she had made a simple band to match the curves of the original ring.

Homestead Mama and I have something old, something new, some history and a fresh beginning on our fingers. We couldn't be happier. Unless, of course, we were recognized as actually married by our country.


Becca said...

Beautiful post.

And shame on NY!

Travel Planner said...

Great Post Now i know what this blog is all about i will include this in my rss feeds regards john jobs in india , india jobs