The rock on my ring finger.

Introduction:~

Chuck Palahniuk is one of my all time favourite Story Tellers. As a song writer I find his choruses comforting, his stripped down sentences alarming, vivid, frank, and brutal. Yesterday I saw this:  Story of the pixies it inspired me to tell you a story.

The rock on my ring finger.

In Johannesburg, August is when you have had about as much as you can take of bare trees. Yellow grass. Dust. Cold mornings. You are very ready for the winter to end. It was August. We set off (by car) for Cape Town.

A business trip, both for the business, as well as personal business. Michael and I had the task of packing up, and sorting out, all of his possessions. Some to bring back to Joburg, others to go into storage in Tulbagh…what I’m getting at is this was no holiday. Add to this the fact that my mother’s health had just taken that left turn on the downward spiral. I became defensive. Sad. Lost, and more than a little nervous.

We had two days to pack up his whole house {Michael’s life so to speak : Hundreds of books, art, furniture, (copious)musical equipment, and the kitchen – everything he left behind to come and be with me 1393 kilometers [866 miles] away}, and commute, an hour each way, in to Cape Town at odd intervals for actual business meetings.

One of these drives in to town was very tense, and silent. I was hurt (as I’ve said it is easy for me to feel this way and withdraw) who knows why?

After the meeting, Michael suggested we drive back by the scenic route. An attempt to shake off, with a little help from Mother Nature, the dark heaviness that had pulled itself tightly around me. As we drove through unfamiliar neighbourhoods we started to play one of the car games we love. We pretend we are buying property, and every house is on the market. This was working wonderfully. By the time we pulled up in Kalk Bay I was a changed woman. I had been to the Brass Bell once before and was excited to have the opportunity to go again. This time with Michael, who had never been.

We parked on Main street just outside a place called Oh So Boho and I felt a familiar magnetic pull…we had reached the haven of retail therapy.

We got a great, private, table at the Brass Bell and watched the sea, the fishing boats, and the seagulls. I started to breathe again. So did Michael (a big sigh of relief).

I felt certain that I would find a perfect gem stone ring at the store we had seen. I had been wanting a gem stone ring for many months by this time, but on the highveld they are surprisingly difficult to come by. As I let my mind conjure up images of the kind of ring I hoped to find, I again felt a certainty that the ring would cost me no more than R200.00. I excused myself from the table, excited and distracted, made my way to the nearest ATM to withdraw the money for my ring. Michael meanwhile was relieved by the lift in my mood, much lifted himself by the ocean view, and the breeze blowing in off the water.

When I returned to the table, he said that he felt that I should have some mad money to spend on myself, and proceeded to produce R200.00 and hand it to me. I found the synchronicity too strange not to mention. My mind rushed ahead to the silver rings throughout our entire meal (I cannot even remember what I ate).

I must have looked at every tray, every.single.ring. in their not small collection. Ummmming and Ahhhhhhing – drawing every moment of exquisite pleasure from trying ring after beautiful ring hunting for a perfect fit. Michael browsed lanterns, Llama wool socks, animal shaped felt coin purses, rugs, leather goods, dresses(!!!) and eventually started to follow me around. He asked if I had seen the rings in the corner. Huh? No! MOAR rings! There it was!

A silver ring, with heart’s (vomit. I know) and  a large faceted almost pink Amethyst (at this time I was still fully in the throws of that PINK phase I spoke about in Wouldn’t you like to know). It slipped on to my left hand ring finger. Perfect fit. At that moment it dawned on me that this was my engagement ring (!) I started to tremble. I took the ring to the owner of the shop. It had no tag, and therefore no price (few of the rings were under R200.00, none of the ones I liked). My heart was in my mouth, all iron and salt, forcing my tongue away from my palate.

She looked hard at the ring. Took out her catalogue and a calculator. There was scanning of pages, and pressing of buttons. A moment of confusion. More pressing of buttons. She smiled. That will be one hundred and eighty rand she said holding it up to me.

Blood rushed back into my extremities. I took the ring in tingling fingers, placed it on my left hand and held them both out toward Michael. I think he somehow already knew that we were shopping for my engagement ring. He smiled – Do you like it? he asked. I nodded (mouth still full of heart).

I took the mad money from my pocket. Paid for the ring and wondered out of the shop in shock, and too late for an Ice Café ice cream (the Ice Café on Main street is a must must must if you are a fan of the cold creamy stuff of sticky finger happiness).

We drove back to Tulbagh in the dusk light and a different kind of silence . The car overpowered by a thick rose scent (I had purchased a little bottle in one of the other shops in Kalk Bay and had a slight roseoil spill in the clumsy process of removing the stopper from the bottle). I stared at the rock on my ring finger breathing rose fumes, engulfed by a sea of pinkness, high on love.

with love (from a heart that knows how teeth feel)

nicole

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