I'm back from a girlfriend getaway in paradise. Traveling with a best friend off the beaten path awakened joy in me and soothed my soul, but it also left me wondering: Why can't I capture that sense of fun and wonder in everyday life? Why do I feel so stuck here in Boston, yet I was free as a bird in Mexico?
One idea: I took off my wedding ring while traveling. I think my naked ring finger gave rise to more open responses and deeper interactions than I would have otherwise experienced.
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One afternoon my (single) traveling companion, Maddie, a 35-year-old dear college friend who lives in Los Angeles, pointed out something peculiar in the heavy surf. As we watched, a lone snorkeler emerged onto the beach holding a spear and a wire laden with fish. We dropped our beach novels, marched over to investigate, and found a young Mexican man pleased to show us his catch of red snapper, octopus, and lobster.
In bits of English and Spanish we learned they were snacks for a gathering of friends at a nearby cabana that evening. He told us if we brought some beer, we were welcome to hang out and share. Quite a tempting offer.
Unfortunately, we had other plans. But if we had taken him up on his offer I think we would have enjoyed a relaxed evening on the beach with some new friends. If we don't travel for this kind of experience, why travel at all? But were a ring on my finger, would the same offer have been made?
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When I recently put this question to a few friends, I was blown away by the variety and strength of their feelings on the matter.
Kendra, a 25-year-old engaged Bostonian, admitted things might have been different had I worn my ring. But she can't imagine taking her diamond off for any reason—not even to wash her hands. She will hide her left hand in her pocket when she sits next to a cute guy on a subway train, however. She even admits to choosing seats that put her in good flirting position.