Tell us the story of your most-prized possession.
It’s the final day of the challenge already?! Let’s make sure we end it with a bang — or, in our case, with some furious collective tapping on our keyboards. For this final assignment, lead us through the history of an object that bears a special meaning to you.
A family heirloom, a flea market find, a childhood memento — all are fair game. What matters is that, through your writing, you breathe life into that object, moving your readers enough to understand its value.
Today’s twist: We extolled the virtues of brevity back on day five, but now, let’s jump to the other side of the spectrum and turn to longform writing. Let’s celebrate the drawn-out, slowly cooked, wide-shot narrative.
How long is long? That’s entirely up to you to decide. You can go with a set number — 750, 1000, or 2000 words, or more (or less!). Alternatively, you could choose your longest post thus far in the challenge, and raise the bar by, say, 300 words, 20 percent, three paragraphs — whatever works for you.
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So here’s the truth. Although I have a lot of stuff, I don’t “treasure” most of it. Frankly, considering the way I treat many of my objects, someone could reasonably say I treasure almost none of it.
That’s a bit harsh.
I did read a few others’ entries to get an idea of what they treasured and as I always am by other people’s honesty, I was in awe. And like many of you, what I really treasure most tends towards the abstract and ephemeral (my marriage, love, freedom, my intelligence, a great cup of coffee).
Maybe I’m late in posting this because I was really rather embarrassed by the one thing I treasured. It seemed petty, and privileged. And having recently been called “privileged and condescending” my thinking went along the lines of – “you can’t write about that – how privileged and condescending of you!”
My inner critic is a bitch.
But bitch, sometimes you have to be happy with what you have. I am blessed to have this and everything else in my life. I don’t know if it’s just plain luck that I have it, or as a result of hard work and choices that I and others made, or a combination of both, but for sure I’m blessed.
Let me tell you a little story. Really. I promise.
I got married for the first time in 1981. I know – some of you weren’t even born then! Strange, huh? Even I think that’s a long time ago, but when I was living it, at age 23, well, I was 23. So I was young and the world seemed to stretch out infinitely, as it always does for a 23-year-old.
My husband and I didn’t have any money. And there wasn’t anyone to pay for a wedding, so we made our wedding invitations and announcements, an aunt of his baked us a cake and someone else did the flowers, and I wore a nice but flowered dress. We had gone ring shopping at a local jewelers and he had bought me a pretty gold ring that had potential to be modified for diamonds in the future. He wanted to design his own wedding ring, so he opted not to get one at the time, which was fine since I couldn’t afford a ring for him. I think my gold band (which wasn’t plain by any means) cost around $450.
We were married for about seven years total. At the end of the marriage, no diamonds had been added to the ring, and he never got a ring for himself. What we had to show for our marriage was our son, who was two when we separated, and a lot of debt. We never owned a house or had any other financial assets. Our son was truly our only asset.
I was single for almost two decades after this. Single’s great – I highly recommend being single. Actually, I recommend being single before getting married, if you can work it out. I obviously have lived portions of my life backwards.
I thought I was an old maid at 23 and was wanting desperately to get married, so when I was asked, I said yes. It wasn’t a terrible marriage, but I was young and he, although five years older, was also not terribly prepared for it either. We both loved our son, but not each other.
Being single after having been married is much more problematic. I did enjoy it, parts of it, and blessedly, I never became bitter over men and relationships. I knew so many women for went through a long protracted “men are pigs” phase and some who never went beyond this. But in fairly short order, I was able to meet people and date on occasion and even have a boyfriend or two. Most didn’t meet my son as he was growing up. I had a few more serious relationships over the years, but none took beyond the dating phase (even the one I have written about on this blog never got to the living together stage).
I met my current (and last!) husband in 2004. I almost didn’t meet him at all, actually. When people ask us how we met, I usually am open about it and will be here. Why not? You won’t judge me, right?
We met on match.com. There, I’ve said it. We are one of those couples. Just not as photogenic.
Now to back up a bit, I have to say that I was an early adopter of online dating. When all my friends were saying, “oh my god, you’ll meet serial rapists and end up in pieces in dumpsters” (maybe it wasn’t quite that dramatic), I was having coffee with nice but not eligible matches. I learned the art of saying, “I don’t think we’re a match” and meaning it which was a way to not have to say, “it’s not me . . . it’s YOU.”
And I got to get rejected some of the time, too. I’m not that fabulous, after all.
The fact is – most of the guys I met online were perfectly nice. Some were abject weirdos, true, but the vast majority were just guys working in places where it was hard for them to meet women. And I certainly didn’t want to date in-house, either. Lawyers? Forget.about.it.
So I learned a lot about the online world – how to navigate it, who was a possible, who wasn’t and a million other little things that only online daters learn. The big one – the one I tried to adhere to 100% of the time – was “meet early.” I had a few occasions early on of forming emotional attachments in the online sphere prior to meeting and then being terribly disappointed when I finally met them. Or there was zero chemistry in person, and here I was acting like a silly schoolgirl online or on the phone (or worse, much worse.)
The other little rule that most women know of is what I call the two-year rule. Which is that most men need about two years after a divorce before they are a decent catch again.
So when I got a wink from my future husband, I read his profile and it was – recently separated, in the process of divorce. In other words, not even worth meeting for about, you know, the next 24 months.
Not that he was looking for another wife or anything. He was online to meet someone nice to go to dinner with. I’d been at the singles game a whole lot longer than him, obviously, and was open to a re-marriage, but that certainly wasn’t his initial intent.
So we wrote back and forth once or twice and then I did the “let him down easy” email, saying I didn’t think it was a good idea since, of course, he was so newly single, blah blah blah. He wrote back and said how disappointed he was in reading this and had looked forward to getting to know me.
Life is funny, isn’t it?
Because at the time I was flirting and writing online with future husband, I was also sortof dating a guy I’d been hung up on for quite a long while, and also, to add to the mix, kindof dating another guy, a lawyer! (ooooooh, those damn lawyers – so pesky). Actually sortof was a lawyer, too – but when I was dating him, he hadn’t quite passed the bar yet. Sortof was “perfect on paper” – divorced, yes, but as long as I was – with only one child who, like my son, was mostly grown up. Kindof was divorced over two years with two younger kids. So both of these guys were much more suitable than future husband was.
But sortof had another girlfriend (that’s why he’s ‘sortof’) and really wasn’t available to me. And kindof? Well, kindof and I had a so-called romantic weekend away which he mostly spent on the phone with his ex-wife, reminding her to do this, and helping her with that, and playing referee to the kids.
After the end of that fiasco, I re-evaluated and re-considered, and said yes to a phone call and then yes to meeting future husband. I figured it couldn’t have been quite as bad as these two knuckleheads, sortof and kindof.
As you can imagine, it wasn’t as bad. In fact, it was good. And got better over time.
In 2005, he asked me to marry him and I said yes. And he inquired as to whether he should surprise me with an engagement ring, or should we go together to buy it? My answer was “I think you know me by now.” Nodding he said, “we’ll go shopping together.”
One of the fun things about living in a big city is that they have all these districts, and Los Angeles is not alone in this. Downtown, where I’d worked off and on for many years, has a wonderful jewelry/diamond district. My elderly Aunt B has bought many a piece of jewelry from there, and it’s known that if you want a bargain, you go to the district and “never buy retail!!!” First rule.
I’m sure they do surveys of who are the primary vendors in terms of country of origin, but after having spent some time wading through the shops and open air stalls, I would say it’s someplace vaguely from the Middle East – either Israel, Lebanon, Iran, Jordan, even Armenia, too. Probably a fair number of Turkish vendors. It’s quite the experience to shop there.
We did do a few smart things prior to shopping – I looked at a lot of ring styles, and schooled myself on diamonds and other stones, and then we went retail shopping at the mall to get a feel for prices and styles that were “off the rack”. I found one ring designer that I liked and even found a style that I loved. The retail store that carried his work had the ring and it was pretty expensive. Of course, the expense would include adding the main diamond to it.
So that was the background and then we hit the diamond district. Eventually we found a shop where we told them what we were looking for and what type of diamond we were looking for.
This woman was amazing – she found the designer online, the ring design and basically she made a slightly different, but similar, ring for me. As she showed us diamonds, I saw one that I liked and then she showed us a bigger diamond. The bigger diamond was slightly over two carats and the price was significantly higher. I knew it would look better in the ring and with my hands (since I’m not a small woman), but it couldn’t be my call to spend more money.
But future husband said yes. Immediately and without hesitation. He could afford it and he wanted to buy it for me and that was that.
So it was a few weeks later, we went back to try on my ring and I’ve worn it ever since, even before we got married as I opted to have a single ring that is both engagement and wedding ring, not a separate engagement ring.
My ring is one of, if not the most, treasured physical possession I have. It is beautiful and unique (main square two carat Aascher cut diamond with two sapphires and pave cut diamonds in a white gold setting) – I have literally never seen a ring like mine anywhere. It looks at once antique and vintage (that’s the sapphires, as they were used a lot in rings in the 1920’s), and very modern. And it fits me to a T.
Yes, it cost a lot. And I don’t care. I am blessed to have been given it by a man who I treasure and love (even if he pets me sometimes a bit too much). And yes, I bought him a wedding band, too, although the cost for his band versus my ring was on a magnitude of about 50 to 1. I got the better end of that deal, I guess.
But I think he’d say he got a good deal, too. For after a long marriage to a woman who he had loved and treasured but who had many demons of her own that got in the way, he was just happy to be in a marriage with someone who laughed at his jokes and enjoyed his company. Who appreciated him and allowed him to be his most creative self. Etc. etc. etc.
So we both got a great deal. I had to take a chance on someone who didn’t look so “perfect on paper” but was perfect for me, and he had to amend his sights from just dinner to a lifetime of dinners.