Let the ashes fly

The week before my former wedding anniversary, and I find myself carrying my wedding rings around in my pocket for days. This wasn’t my intention–the intention was to finally look into selling them at the jewelry store a couple blocks from my apartment–but every time I’ve gone there, there’s been a reason why it didn’t work out. First day I didn’t make it back into town in time before it closed. The next day the owner was unexpectedly out of town on business and his very kind, very elderly mother was watching over the shop counter but couldn’t complete the appraisal. On the third they were randomly closed. I know myself better than to leave them at my apartment or in the car, because that is where they will inevitably stay for several more weeks or months, so I’ve kept them in a plastic baggie in my purse or jacket pocket in the hopes the next pass by the store will result in this bittersweet errand’s completion.

I felt guilty putting the rings in a plastic baggie–it almost felt like some weird post-mortem. But I couldn’t find their proper boxes and I didn’t think it’d really matter much to the jeweler, though I wondered if somehow the presentation might affect the final price he’d quote me for them. At this point it doesn’t matter though–it’s not so much about the cost as it is about the Moving Past The Thing.

I’ve contemplated what to do with my rings for some time now. I’ve had friends who’ve sold theirs, who’ve used the stones to make other pieces. One person suggested I throw it into the sea, a symbolic gesture nodding to some ritual that I can’t remember offhand. I even thought about just giving them away to someone on Craigslist looking to get married and unable to afford a ring on their own.

It’s funny the things you realize you’re given no instruction about after a divorce–the complete lack of “What Do I Do Next?” was the thing that struck me the most after me and my husband separated. I felt like Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin in Beetlejuice after they died, waiting fruitlessly for some sort of instructions. I contemplated the etiquette–Does one announce a separation the same they do a divorce? Do I post a picture of myself, alone in the paper next to photos of the smiling couples?–and joked for awhile that I’d take it upon myself to write such a book.

This will be my second “anti-versary” since the divorce was finalized, the third if you count our separation. Each year carries its own feelings, its own weight, although now that the Years of Firsts are behind me, I feel like I’ve been able to move past some aspects of it, some of the emotional stuff. But now, what to do with the actual physical stuff?

A lot of it is gone now–many of the things from the registry intended to help us build our life together deconstructed (sorry, friends)–the every day plates given to a friend moving to a new apartment, the unused Waterford crystal toasting glasses given to a couple via Yerdle excited to use them to celebrate their upcoming anniversary.

The leftover favors (homemade mix CDs–what else?) finally tossed, and the wedding photos culled down my favorites, kept for posterity’s sake. I’ve been looking for a buyer/taker for my dress and veil for a couple months now, its presence in the closet at my parents’ house a strange reminder of a life that feels so far away now. I’m still pushing forward though, making The Heavy Decisions When It Comes to Editing My Stuff–and not just with the wedding stuff–with all my stuff. I’m giving myself until my lease is up to purge as many things as possible. I want less. I want weightlessness. I don’t want to feel owned by objects, believing them to be possessed by the memories they hold for me. I’m careful with the value I place on the things I have that represent other things–I will keep one of my mother’s scarves, but not all of them. I will cherish the ring my grandmother gave me, but I will not keep every piece of jewelry that’s ever been gifted to me simply because they once held meaning.

I don’t have any specific goal in mind for paring things down (ie, prepping for some awesome cross-world trip like some people I know), but I like to believe it’ll put me in a good place to effortlessly pursue the next thing that comes along. And even just mentally, it’ll help me move on easier to That Next Thing. Holding on to old love letters and notes and memories is nice in some ways, and I plan to preserve some of these tangible things, but I’d rather keep pushing ahead, keep seeking out What’s Next, vs. reminiscing on What Was. Then again, maybe every once and a while we need to carry around a piece of our past, stuffed in a plastic baggie in our jacket pocket to remind ourselves where we’ve been, and where we want to go next.