“Take me to the beach” she said. I knew going in that I was going to propose. We’d been lovers, traveled the length of India, lived together, fought together, broken up a couple of times but somehow remained friends over the course of fifteen years. She came to see me in Mexico and now, months later was joining me in Thailand. I was madly in love again. But I had no ring.
I was really stressed about it — I didn’t know her ring size and couldn’t ask without blowing the surprise. She was arriving at midnight and then we were flying to Krabi and the island of Koh Yao Noi at noon the next day. Jewelry shops don’t really open until 10:00am so it’d be tight.
But still, I had this James Bond fantasy that I’d sneak a ring from her finger and run out to a shop and buy one while she slept, then rush home.
Reality can be cruel: she didn’t wear rings.
So we landed on the island where there was really no chance of buying one but we snuggled into a beautiful bungalow and had a wonderful time. We could see the sun rise over the water, birds flying about the grounds and in ten minutes we could walk to our favorite beach spot.
It was remote enough that she could swim topless and I may have gone into the water nude once or thrice. Five times max. It was perfect.
But I didn’t have a ring.
It was a beautiful scene, turquoise water surrounded by islands of limestone pushing their way into the sky and waves that didn’t seem to have the will to more than limp along to land. When I tired of swimming I retreated to the shore and there the waves pitched up. And a big one smacked me right in the face.
I fell back and my right hand landed on it — a simple rusted and well-worn washer older than me, scored by ages of sand and water and grit. Square, with a hole in it. Edges beveled and worn down with time.
I had intended to wait but it just felt right and while we had cheese and white wine in the shade of a palm, I asked her to marry me. And she said yes. And I was the happiest man in the world.
“This is just a placeholder – we’ll get you a proper ring back in Chiang Mai.”
I ended up wearing it — she was petite and my hands are built for the plow, not a piano. It just barely fits my pinky but was way too large and heavy for her.
In the end, our relationship didn’t last. Again. We fell back into the same patterns of bickering that doomed us the first time.
But I still wear the Ring.
It’s not because I pine for her but because it reminds me every moment that if your heart is in the right place and you have just a little luck, the universe will give you what you need.
And it looks cool.