On April 20th, 2015, I became engaged to my best friend of over twenty years, .
What follows, if you are interested to read on, is our story.
From quite literally the first moment I met her back in college I knew there was something special about her. Being as our lives were with other people back then, I assumed her light just shone brighter because she would say and do things differently than anyone I had ever met before. Perhaps just thinking that should have really clued me in, but I was a lot younger and a lot more naive. Over time, naievity gave way to knowing I had a deep crush on this beautiful woman who enjoyed my company and laughed at all my ridiculously stupid jokes. But throughout our friendship, we were never single at the same time. Eventually I met who would turn out to be my ex-wife and Rho moved from the Midwest to the East coast and met who would become her ex-husband. We kept up with each other as close friends for many years but due to personal reasons on each side we lost contact for a decade. It was difficult to do and I always counted this as a big regret in life; she was already the one who got away and now she was gone forever.
But there are some things that time and distance can not erase. Throughout the years, I always felt a connection to Rho. Fond memories during happy times. Longing memories and regrets during times of trouble; where you think about how life would be different, if only. Eventually this Facebook site you may have heard of was all the rage and I reached out to say hello. Consciously, I longed for a chance to return to our once close friendship. The reply I got back was that she had, literally that week, separated from her husband. Though once more the universe did not sync up our single lives, we did fall easily and immediately back into that close friendship I desperately missed; and she still laughed at my still ridiculously stupid jokes. This time we vowed not to lose contact with each other.
One day, after more years passing, a strange thing, at least in our history, happened. Rho and I were single at the same time. The seed that had been planted decades prior wasted little time to take root and started growing. With the universe giving us this opportunity, I knew without a doubt I wanted to try, distance be damned - and she was already there on the same page. I will admit there was some fear to conquer; when you are used to things not working out, and with half a country between you, it can be easy to want to run before some unknown thing happens to ruin things. One of the many sayings my dad used to tell me growing up was, "Faint heart never won fair lady." With this saying and some advice from good friends in mind, I embraced my courage and fully leaped. Things fell into place and every second leading up to this moment has been amazing and grows every day in a way I never thought possible except in movie romances or fairy tales.
After that leap, we got a chance to see each other again in person after double digit years on a trip she scheduled back home to see family. We met at a local mall, her with her two teenagers, and me with mine. She was seated at a table outside a Starbucks and from the instant I walked in the mall door, I could feel her presence - well before I laid eyes on her. That feeling and the sights and sounds in that instant are like a snapshot inside me still. We did not get to stay with each other for long but it was exactly what we needed to see that everything we felt existed face to face; times a million. Later that week we got a chance to meet alone at a quiet state park and afterwards I knew I owed apologies to every sappy love song and romantic movie I had ever dissed. Over the next year we both took a lot of time off and made many flights and drives across half the country to see each other.
Plans having already been set in place to conquer the distance between us within another year from this writing, I wanted to give her a symbol of our commitment. I know neither of us need physical things or legalities; the return look in her eyes when she is with me has always been enough. But I still desired to create something uniquely for her. The old fashioned romantic in me centered on a ring and I went through a lot of sleepless nights and anxiety trying to figure out how best to come up with the perfect one. After being frozen from moving forward for a while because I could not come up with the best answer, it dawned on me. What is the perfect ring? The one she lets me place on her finger. Even if I handed her a circle of string or a rubber band, the love in my heart and soul for her and my desire to spend the rest of my days with her are what truly gives the symbol of any ring it's power. That being said, I did still want to come up with something she would like to wear the rest of our days for it's beauty as well as for a symbol of our love. Though I decided not to be paralyzed that I may not get the ring exactly right, I was darned if I was not going to try! I figured we could always turn it into a necklace or something if she started breaking out the maps to Mordor!
I started by consulting a handful of close friends (there really is a Fellowship for this ring) who gave me encouragement, inspiration, and ideas. Of many ring examples they sent my way, I saved a few images where some element caught my eye and elicited comment. I pieced together a profile of Rho through pictures of her and us and things that she found beautiful or meaningful. I wrote down notes about my feelings for her and described her, knowing there was never a way to truly convey her in simple words. My brother, upon viewing all of this, stated I had created a stalker profile. My goal, since I could not craft a ring myself, was to work with a jewelry artisan and without having the ability to mind meld with them, paint a picture of Rho and of what I wanted to create. Over the course of half a year, plans came together culminating with exactly the ring I envisioned, thanks to in Seattle Washington, and also a wonderful wooden ring box by artist in the UK.
For the rest of the story as relates to the physical elements, feel free to look at the pictures and their descriptions included. But I want to end this with a thanks to my friends, family, and daughter who helped with their words of wisdom and encouragement. And the biggest thanks and all my love to Rho, my best friend, who after over twenty years, I can introduce as the woman who has agreed to spend the rest of her life with me. I plan to honor every second of that. <3