Over the years, I’ve acquired my fair share of jewelry keepsakes from boyfriends past. It’s a doting (and typically cheap) little reminder of their fleeting love and a promise that, like the thin coating of metal on the ring, you will eventually have to face the facts that your finger or neck has turned green and so has your relationship.
I still wonder where the first pair of gypsy-styled earrings are….they had six little QZ cuts hanging from a metal stick, and were given to me at a time when I thought, ‘by gosh! who wears dangling earrings anymore?!’ I just know that they rusted, and quickly.
When I was in high school, the stakes were higher in relationships and I found the wearable art to be much classier, from retailers like Helzburg Diamonds and other established institutions that did not include ‘handmade at camp’ on them. One such gift I received was a classic white gold ring that swirled to enclose a tiny little diamond. I remember being ecstatic when I received it–it was like a promise ring, something that could be a daily reminder of my feelings for this young man. We broke up in a dramatic scene overlooking a beautiful lake–ending with some sort of ridiculous groveling that literally had me on my knees. Needless to say, I didn’t want to wear the ring anymore; it was a symbol of death. Not surprisingly, my first instinct was to go back to the store, though it had already been two years since the ring was purchased. To my great fortune, I found out that I could trade ‘up’ for a better ring. The ensuing purchase was what became known as my ‘Miss Independent Ring,’ and ironically was worn in place of my engagement ring when it was in the shop.
Years later in college, I was given a trinket of much larger value…a past, present, and future drop necklace that to this day is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen. The guy went MIA and I was furious. Out of sheer curiosity, I called the retailer to find out their return policy. They informed me that any returns could be made in full within 90 days and would be returned the exact way the item was paid for. Rats. Who would have paid nearly $400 in cash? After another month of holding onto it, I decided to summon my roommates advice. Was it indeed unethical to consider attempting a return, in the slight chance that cash was used? We went through the usual filter…’you’re sure it’s over? he won’t find out? what exactly is wrong about this?’ My roommate finally surrendered and said it was my call, it was certainly a unique situation.
I walked past the retailer three times before finally going in with my small box. I shadily looked around, as though this man from another state would be watching my unbelievable stunt. I explained my situation to the sales clerk and she seamlessly completed the transaction and handed me cash. I couldn’t believe it! It was like fireworks and an overly full stomach; so much excitement and the deadweight of guilt all at once. Yes, the relationship hadn’t lasted, and yes- he did call once or twice in the coming months and asked about the necklace. It was beautiful, it was fine...(it just belonged to someone else, but he needn’t know that until…now?). But all in all, I made almost four hundred dollars for my breakup, which put me in the lead I should say.
I turned the corner in the mall and was convicted right in front of a giant Mickey Mouse. I swung into the Disney Store to purchase a large selection of toys and donated them to a local shelter with the first fruits of that money. Now, I was not only richer; I was more generous, and even the local children would rejoice in my relational shortcomings.