Liquid Assets in Little Boxes

When I moved to New York to start work at an investment bank I started to lust after large diamond engagement rings. I was suddenly blinded. They were everywhere. Not just in the office, but on the streets, in restaurants on the subway, enormous diamonds with numerous permutations of side stones, bands, and gemstones. I was infatuated. I used to think, “Why is a woman with a diamond that big riding the subway? Doesn’t someone like that have a car service?” My Midwestern girl naivete at its best, I suppose.

The ones in the office were ridiculous. At first I would just stare around the room at all the different rings when I was bored in meetings. Eventually, I became so infatuated with them it was an unintentional distraction. I’d be listening to a conference call, supposed to be taking notes on new asbestos legislation, and instead I was sketching out my engagement ring. I hadn’t thought about having a wedding or getting married. I just wanted a ring for the ring’s sake. Admittedly materialistic, but I couldn’t stop the infatuation.

I eventually made my decision that I wanted a round solitaire in yellow gold, with a pave band and pave prongs. I let my boyfriend know with the certainty that we weren’t getting engaged for about two years.

Then soon after on an icy Thursday morning around 7:00 a.m. my boyfriend, Stephen, woke me up and asked me if I wanted to walk our dog with him before he went to work. Still lying in bed, squinting at the light, in old sweats and matted hair I was secretly thinking, “You’re already up and dressed, why don’t you walk the dog?” I managed to roll out still in my pyjamas and throw on my down parka.

We walked to the end of the pier near our apartment on the river. I was intently watching the dog, because he has a habit of putting garbage in his mouth. I looked away only when Stephen said “Deenah”, as he was getting down on one knee and taking a small box out of his pocket. I was literally breathless. Still totally foggy given the early hour, I don’t remember his exact words. I do remember my internal monologue though. The box was red, and I thought “Holy crap. Cartier has red boxes. Did he go to Cartier?” There was a “Will you marry me?” and the more breathlessness as the box opened, and I saw the ring. Gorgeous, huge, so sparkly, and… not what I had picked out, were my immediate thoughts. Once I caught my breath I said yes, and we kissed and hugged. We were both a little out of it, and couldn’t stop staring at the ring, still in the box when I said “Do I really get to wear that?” He put it on, and we stared some more.

He went to work, and I spent the good portion of my morning staring at my left hand, and sending pictures of it to friends.

We had dinner that night at the same restaurant where we’d had our first date. I got serious with him for a second, which I rarely do, and said “I spent so long thinking about a ring and made it so important to me, and now I realize how unimportant it is. It’s beautiful and I love it even more that you picked it out, but I’m really just happy that I’m going to get to marry you”. I hope he believed me, because it was true, and he deserved to marry someone that felt that way. I mentioned later that if we ever fell on hard times it’s an appreciating asset that we can liquidate. It made me smile when he looked down at my hand and then at me and said “Never.”