Normally if my significant other were to casually suggest a Sunday morning dumpster dive I would, at the very least, bat an eyelash.
Maybe I would offer up some concern that he was just really desperate for pizza and the craving would subside or maybe I would ask, semi-offended, if the hide-a-bed wasn’t to his liking anymore. There was no batting, however, because the dumpster dive in reference was entirely my doing.
When Steve and I started dating I made what I thought was a well-veiled comment about my obsession with Friday Night Lights. The comment I made was probably more along the lines of expressing my obsession with Tim Riggins — because bad boys for life — but he took it in stride and decided to assume I was talking about my love of high school football.
Somewhere in the middle of this conversation he decided it was in his best interest to reveal to me his high school glory years as the captain of the provincial championship team. I got the play-by-play of that game — albeit not understanding a word — and witnessed him excitedly relive what was, undoubtedly, the highlight of his athletic career.
I smiled and nodded, imagining myself as a cheerleader on the sidelines even though we don’t have those in Canada and I would have been 10 at the time.
“I still have the ring!” he exclaimed at the end of the fourth quarter. My interest piqued.
Maybe it’s the imaginary life I live in my head that takes place in small-town Texas, maybe it’s all the 80s movies I watch, maybe it’s just the whole modern day Romeo and Juliet idea that sweeps over me from time to time, but immediately my heart was set on it. I wanted that ring.
And so it came to pass that Steve asked me to “go steady” while presenting me with a sterling silver, emerald green embellished, initial and final-score engraved high school football championship ring. I said yes, obviously, and that night I brushed my ponytail in the mirror for thirty minutes — like I imagine cheerleaders do — feeling super popular.
I placed the ring on a silver chain and wore it once or twice to be cute before retiring it to a small box for safekeeping.
I knew the moment he started telling the story the other night that something horrible had happened. I got that feeling — the one you get when you hit send on a text message to your boss that was actually supposed to go to your best friend — and I saw flashing images in my mind of the box being picked up and thrown out during a new year cleaning spree.
When I finally worked up the courage to tell him that I thought I had thrown the ring down the garbage chute only hours earlier, I burst into tears before even finishing the sentence.
To Steve’s credit, he laughed.
And that’s how, at midnight, we ended up following the garbage chute down fourteen floors and leaving a note on the locked door asking to be let in the next morning.
Again, to his credit, Steve did the work. I sat at my desk job while texting him descriptions of what our garbage bags looked like while he commiserated with our land lady who told him a tale of losing two of her husbands high school rings after he gave them to her.
He found the ring, thankfully, and proceeded to give me a lovely speech about how there was nothing I could break or lose that would make him upset with me, that things are just things and sometimes accidents happen.
I got to thinking that maybe the material things we hold the closest, even the sentimental ones, are just tokens of something we want to remember fondly — a moment, a person, a championship game — that enable us to remember them more often than if we didn’t have a visual reminder. If I had lost the ring for good, maybe the story in its place, now two-fold, would be even more vivid. Maybe with some purposeful commitment to the memories themselves the ring wouldn’t have been missed.
Then again, he hasn’t taken it off since he pulled it out of the spaghetti.
— Andria Parker is a 20-something blogger from Kamloops