It's funny how some things come full circle: for the second time in 25 years, I'm spending a summer with naked fingers.
The first time was 22 years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter and working outdoors all summer at a campground in Michigan. The heat made my fingers swell so much that I eventually had to have my wedding rings cut off. I felt naked without them, so I went to JC Penney to buy myself a wedding band--just a simple gold band to wear until my fingers went back to normal.
Now I don't know how often an obviously pregnant woman walks up to the jewelry counter in JC Penney to try on wedding bands, but the ladies behind the counter looked at me with a mixture of pity and contempt. Did they think I was an unwed mother trying to pull the wool over someone's eyes? I don't know. I just bought the ring and left.
Eventually my fingers returned to their pre-pregnancy size and I got my rings repaired, and I've rarely removed them for the past 21 years--until this summer. Now, though, the rings are not too small but too big.
When my father was about my age, he lost a lot of weight and his wedding band slid off his finger during a visit to the beach. It's probably still circling the drain somewhere in the Atlantic. My mother bought him a new ring for Christmas.
Now I seem to be following my father's footsteps: I've lost a lot of weight and my rings keep sliding off. I keep picturing them ending up in the septic tank or the catbox, or maybe they'll slide off while I'm pruning roses and a nearby bird will swoop down and carry the sparklies off to decorate a nest.
So I've gotten in the habit of taking my rings off--and leaving them off. My fingers feel naked. I leave my rings off so I won't lose them, but as soon as they're off I feel as if they're already lost.