On my 26th birthday, I sat soaking at Orr hot springs in Ukiah with Georgia, the love of my life, a woman in her mid-40s. I reflected on how incredible life had become. There wasn’t anything more I could ask for, even on such an auspicious occasion.
There was the unavoidable smell of sulfur from the pools, the slightest breeze, and practically no one in sight because it was mid-week and it seemed everyone was chained to their respective desks.
We sat naked on the edge of one of the pools and Georgia asked me to stay there for a minute and she would be right back. I knew why she had asked me to wait; we had gone to Tiffany and Co. to pick out a ring a week earlier. It was a simple band, rose gold and platinum. She had taken the ring to get it engraved, and that was the real surprise on that day. She slipped it onto my finger and told me she wanted to spend the rest of her life with me, and I looked back and told her I’d think about it. No, I’m kidding, I had known from the first day I met I her that she was the one I wanted to marry, or domestic partner, or whatever we’re calling it these days.
Now, the real story starts. My twin sister’s partner (yes, we’re identical, and yes, she’s a lesbian, too…just in case you were wondering) is a jeweler and I had given some old jewelry of mine to her to melt down and make into a ring. So began the waiting game, and thankfully I had a lot of time to plan how to give this ring to Georgia. The ring showed up, and it was beautiful, but I was fearful that it was too small.
The evening came when it was time to execute my creatively romantic plan. We crawled into bed, and as we spooned that night, I patiently laid awake. I waited for the familiar sounds of her deep, restful breath, and the inevitable snores and then I sprung into action. I fumbled around under the mattress searching for the ring I had hidden there earlier on in the day until I had it between my thumb and index finger.
I placed the ring on her finger, slowly pushing it upward and then it abruptly stopped at her knuckle. Shit. So I grabbed her finger, stretched it out and proceeded to force it to fit. The ring got stuck at the knuckle again. She said size 7. I struggled with her impossible knuckle for 25 minutes. Bending her finger, unbending it, licking it, twisting the ring slowly, considering lotion, and then finally, giving up after imagining her waking with a black finger, and a ring that had to be cut off. Defeated and upset I went to sleep.
I had planned for a different scenario. She was meant to wake up the next morning and just go about her routine. Turning on the water for tea, picking two glasses from the cupboard but then hearing a strange clank. The moment of recognition that it was a ring that hit the glass. This was all but a wild dream, because reality had set in that this was not what was going to happen.
I shared my struggles with Georgia over tea and laughter the following morning. I handed her the ring explaining that it obviously didn’t fit her, and we would have to size it, and if she didn’t like it we could find the one she wanted. She absentmindedly put the ring to her finger and began to slide it on as she was saying how much she liked it, but this time it slid right over the knuckle. As I’m witnessing this my mind pulls up one image: a deer at a salt lick. I wanted to clap my hands and make a little noise to scare off the deer, but I knew it was useless. How was I to know a finger can change sizes in the middle of the night?
In the end, her slipping the ring over her own finger was more surprising than my original plan, and it just goes to show that my wildest dreams have always short changed the unpredictable, incredible reality of what is.