Friday, July 15, 2011

The Sisterhood of The Ring

Hi, y'all! Sorry I've not been around. I've been spending way too much time on Facebook. If you get lonely, come on over! I post something there most days, mostly silly stuff.

Anyhooze, it's been awhile, hasn't it? I've written tons of blog posts in my brain but never seem to be able to get them to come out on the keyboard for public consumption. Which, for the most part, is probably a Good Thing.

But I'm stuck here at work today, my last day before an extremely rare WEEK-LONG vacation, made even more rare by the fact that I will be spending it with Evil Twin and her family. I'm so excited I could almost weep. However, I still have 7.5 hours to go at work... so here I am.

Been getting ready for the move. Admittedly, most (OK 99%) of my energy has been going into the new/old place -- a little remodeling and painting and garden rehab -- and I have fallen way behind on, um, packing. As in, I haven't even started yet. But I still have a month to go. Plenty of time, right?

A few months back, though, I had made some good progress in unearthing the floor of The Purple Room, the spare bedroom in the basement where Mr. B and I threw all the boxes of crap we didn't know what to do with. It was quite a fascinating project, since most of the stuff was his and I had never seen it before. What struck me the most was how most of the things we hang on to and drag around for decades lose all value the moment we pass, kinda like a new car becomes a used car the moment you drive it off the lot. I said "kinda"!

(But that's another blog post. Or maybe another blog?)

It was exceptionally difficult to play the stay-or-go game with items I knew nothing about. Why had he kept this? Where did it come from? Is there someone else to whom it might mean something? No idea. At the end of a long two days of sorting, I finally reached the last box. It looked like the upended contents of a dresser drawer. And at the very bottom, among the shirt buttons and pennies, was a ring.

You may remember (if I even told you) that I had lost Mr. B's wedding ring just a couple of weeks after he died. It sucked, but what could I do? Just had to get over it. But here was this ring, obviously sized for him. I knew right away what it was: the wedding ring from his first marriage. When we were ring shopping, I had asked him what his other one looked like and he had described it to me. And there it sat, in the very bottom of the very last box of his crap. Conveniently, it fit securely on my right thumb, so there it went. For some reason it made me very happy. I was convinced he had left it for me to find.

Now, Evil Twin and I had been fascinated by Mr. B's first marriage since the day we heard about it back in the early 90s. So he married this woman, at MIDNIGHT on a WEEKNIGHT because she said it was a good time based on their HOROSCOPES?? And he had only known her a couple of months?? That didn't sound like Mr. B at all. We were writhing with curiosity, but Mr. B was his usual circumspect self and we didn't learn anything more. Not even a photo.

Evil Twin didn't hear much from him after that, and by the time we all met for dinner in 2000, he was divorced. It was already history.

When he and I started dating, seven years later, I felt it was time to do a little probing on the subject. After all, Mr. B knew ALL about my first marriage -- he'd known The Ex almost as long as he'd known me. But once again, details were not forthcoming. I did get an idea of how the relationship went, and learned that he married her because he "thought it was about time" (he was in his late 30s) and she "seemed interesting". Also, she was "very acquisitive," implying that marriage was her decision and he just went along to be polite. (This was a recurring theme in his real-life interactions, BTW.) At one point he told me she was shorter than me, but that's the closest thing to a description I ever got.

I got a few relationship stories from him over time, particularly about how things wound down toward the end. As time went on, I gained insight into why, perhaps, she had reacted the way she had over certain things. There are two sides to everything, of course, and by that time I had realized that Mr. B had some, um, emotional deficits that made an intimate relationship... challenging.

Which is a lot like "interesting."

I thought about how he had described his reasons for marrying her. And I thought about how, in the early enchantment phase of our relationship, I did a little feminine-type fishing, hoping to hear how he felt about our relationship. You know, "you complete me" or some shit like that.

What I got was a long pause, a couple of eye-blinks, a furrowed brow, and finally he proclaimed, "It makes sense." No, not quite what I was hoping for.

This was in bed, mind you, not sitting at the kitchen table.

As I put these things together, I felt the blossoming of a kinship with the mysterious First Mrs. B. She had been in my shoes, poking around in that ginormous brain of his to see what was going on, what he was feeling. She, too, probably had come up with something other than what she had expected.

Oh, I feel ya, sister-wife.

Mr. B and FMB had parted on more-or-less amiable terms. He told me, a few months before he died, that he had seen her. She was working security at an office building where he had an appointment. They spoke briefly. I greedily pressed for details, but he didn't seem to think there was anything worth relaying. He just didn't get gossip, dammit!

So, then, everything else happened. And after all that, I still didn't know what FMB looked like. He did not have a single photo of her lying around. Not one, in any of the boxes I dug through. Hundreds of computer game disks, yes, but none of his first wife.

Which, I suppose, isn't surprising. I was fascinated by him and photographed him constantly, but that fascination did not appear to be mutual. I tried HARD not to take it personally. Yes, he was a photographer, but people simply didn't hold his interest. At one point I practically shamed him into taking some pics of me. Not proud of that, but my Inner Brat was stung, you know?

The last huge Mr. B-related task was dealing with all his slides and negatives. Thousands of them! He was, as they say in photography terms, a bracketer, and had been one back in Ye Oldyn Dayes of Fylm as well. Evil Twin, bless her little heart, volunteered to sort them and scan in the ones worth saving, if I could pack them up and ship them to her. It took awhile to pull it all together, but I finally shipped her THIRTY-FIVE POUNDS of slides and negatives.

An incredibly short time later, she started uploading scans. One of the first was Mr. B standing in front of some sort of scenic wilderness vista with a cute, petite, blond woman. Sent the pic to Nephew Dr. J for verification, but I already knew it was her, the FMB. The woman I had an awful lot in common with but will never meet. The woman whose wedding ring I am wearing on my right thumb.

I wonder if she even knows he died? She lives in The Big City. I published his obit there -- partially for that reason -- but did she see it?

Their relationship lasted maybe five years. Ours was three and a half. How would our relationship have gone if he was still here? Would I have been able to be OK with us "making sense"? Really, really be OK, knowing that what I felt and what he felt were two very different things? Not that there's anything wrong with that, I guess.

Well, we'll never have to find that out, will we? And, in a twisted, self-serving way, I'm thinking maybe that's a Good Thing.