It’s the holidays – a time of joy for some, a time of loneliness and longing for others. While some people are caught up in the whirlwind of buying, buying, buying others are wracking their brains to come up with someone to buy for.
I’m somewhere in the middle – remembering the busy, happy days of when my kids were young and Christmas was magic, and now living alone separated by long distance from my family. I have lots of quiet time – time for reflection and evaluation.
As I was organizing my new apartment, I came across a jewelry case and found two gold wedding bands that have been sitting in a box for years. So many years, I’m not even sure which marriage they came from – number four? Or maybe number five. Surely, I wouldn’t have used the same rings for two different marriages, would I? After all, it’s just a symbol, what’s the difference?
But the symbol conjures up the feelings it represents. Holding the rings, I felt a wave of sadness sweep over me. The rings were exchanged with the best of intentions for a happy life together – a marriage, a partnership, a lifetime of caring companionship. Who can say what goes wrong? He said, she said. In most cases, the reasons for ending a marriage are viewed differently by each party. In any case, I didn’t want these rings any more. I took a photo, placed an ad on Craigslist, and went to the gym.
I asked for inquiries by text. Yes, I have become one of those. When given a choice, I would rather communicate by text than phone or email. I like it short and to the point.
I barely got through the gym door when my phone started dinging. Text: I’m interested in the rings. Text: I want the rings. Text: Are the rings still available?
The first message that came through charmed my socks off. Carlos wrote, ” Hi, Good Night. I am interested in your gold ring you have. Thanks, Carlos.”
I replied, “Which one? Or both?”
“OK. Where are you? Would you like to see them now? I’m in Capitola.”
His reply did it for me, “Tomorrow in the morning is fine for you.”
I smiled and wondered if he was a native Spanish speaker.
We made the arrangements to meet and I tested the waters with “Hasta mañana.”
His relief was palpable.
Obviously, I had under-priced the rings. Hell, I was ready to throw them off the pier just to have the satisfaction of a “Take that, you loser!” But it was dark, cold, and rainy and I could use the money no matter how small. I held off the other takers and put them in the wings in case Carlos didn’t show. His area code was from San Francisco. Would he drive two hours to buy the rings? Turns out he did.
Promptly at our appointed meeting time at Peet’s I got a text; “Be there in two minutes.”
I answered, “Bueno. Soy la rubia en ropa negra afuera.” (Great. I’m the blonde dressed in black standing outside.)
As soon as Carlos saw me, he lit up and the wave of warmth that hit me almost brought tears. He started to shake my hand and instead I hugged him, Latin style. Having spent the last few years in Costa Rica, certain cultural traditions have stayed with me. We chatted amiably (in Spanish) for quite some time before we even discussed the rings. After describing his work as a singer/performer he showed me a YouTube video of his work on his phone.
The video melted my heart and confirmed my intuition. Carlos is a mensch! (Yiddish for a man of integrity and honor). It was all about helping the poverty-stricken and hungry of the world. I have seen it, I support it, I do what I can, and I urge you to do the same (Google him – Carlos Barrera). But this is an aside – the main thing was the ring sale.
As he placed the ring on his finger, it fit perfectly. He smiled at me and said,”If the other one fits my pinky it will be perfect for my wife.” And it was. We high-fived on it, laughed, he pulled out a roll of cash and counted out the full asking price.
I opened my wallet, and added his twenties to my five-and-three-ones and we both laughed. I said, “Now I have money and you have rings. We are both happy.
I was more than happy – I was elated. He scored! I was thrilled. Thrilled that he was so happy to get a good deal, place the ring on the finger of his beloved and release me from the burden of possessing those rings! Memory released. Joy given to someone else. Win-Win!
My sad turned into glad. Feliz Navidad.