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My sister-cousin was here for the weekend and on Saturday, even though I felt like shit, we jumped in the car and headed out to Shepherdstown, WV.  It was warm enough to walk around town without our jackets.  We didn’t have an agenda beyond tea at Shaharazades before we headed back home.  We shared a tofu dish at the Chinese restaurant on the corner, talked about a Michael Pollan book, dissected the relationships of people we know.

After lunch, we were wandering up the street and we decided to make good on a promise we made to the ChickieNob before we left to bring her back something interesting.  We ended up in a bead store, purchasing her a single turquoise stone that the woman threaded on a string for me gratis.

On a whim, inspired by some jewelry we saw in the bead store, my cousin decided that she wanted to buy herself a ring so we ducked into a little store called Plum on the main street.  The owner was busy helping another customer, but my cousin immediately found something she liked right upon walking in.  And then another.  And after that another.  We literally kept pointing out every piece of jewelry to one another: necklaces, cuff bracelet, a tiny ring made from a vintage sugar tong.

And then my sister-cousin started to second guess the purchase because, after all, it seems really indulgent to buy yourself a piece of jewelry for no reason.  And suddenly, it felt like the most important thing in the world to buy that piece of jewelry for precisely that reason.  Because we should all make ourselves happy instead of waiting for someone else to do it.  When we have the means to do so, we should buy pretty things that make us happy every once in a while instead of only buying practical things.

As my cousin settled on the two rings she ultimately purchased, we chatted with owner who was so kind and creative that I decided to make her jewelry my go-to present this year for birthdays.  And as I squatted down to peek at a ring my cousin was considering on the bottom shelf, I saw the one I wanted.  Four plum-coloured stones set in a funky silver design, with a darker purple stone in the center.  It looked like my little family of four.  I tried it on, and of course–as these things go–it fit perfectly.  The price was perfect too.

Every time I complete a big project or go through a life change, Josh buys me a piece of jewelry–usually a ring or a necklace.  The tradition began back when we were doing treatments the first time (though, I guess the engagement ring sort of counts too).  I really wanted the Tiffany’s bean necklace (thank you, store credit) because the bean was supposed to represent a beginning.  We weren’t getting our beginning, and I began to think that we needed to buy the necklace to get the beginning rather than waiting the other way around.  But Josh stood firm and said that it was bad luck to get the necklace until we had a pregnancy progress.

But that raised the question–when was the right time?  Obviously not the day we had a positive beta because one beta was meaningless.  And not the day we had our second beta because there were too many other hurdles to jump over.  And not the day we had our first ultrasound because we hadn’t seen the heartbeat.  And really, could we let out our breaths after we saw the heartbeats because there were too many things that could still go wrong.

And I guess that’s where Josh drew our line in the sand (thank goodness for sand’s shifty qualities).  After we saw the heartbeats, he drove me to Tiffany’s and we bought the bean necklace and I wore it home, sobbing as he played a song on the CD player that had come to represent everything we had been through prior to that point.  We were terrified of believing in anything anymore, but at the same time, if we didn’t grab happiness during the moments when it reared its head, how would we ever have a happy life?  Life is too tenuous, too fragile, too shifting and frail.  There is never a perfectly firm happiness, so we need to create those foundations ourselves or there would be no place to erect our lives.

And that’s where the line has always been.  When we get past the immediate hurdles, the ones that either always trip us up or the ones where it feels foolish to crow about something prematurely, we buy the piece of jewelry and say to ourselves, “right now, we’re happy.  We’re celebrating.  This may change, but we’ll never regret having this reminder because on this day, we were incredibly happy.”  He bought me a necklace when the twins came home from the NICU, bought me a ring when I sold the first book (only once I had a contract in hand since an oral offer seemed like a first beta).

I am waiting for news right now (and no, it is not of the family building variety), wavering between the glass being half full and the glass having a slow leak somewhere that is staining the table with water. But at lunch, my cousin and I got the same fortune, one that speaks volumes to me right now, and I was feeling optimistic as I stood by the counter with the ring on my hand.  Optimistic enough to ask the owner if I could leave my phone number and ask her to call me if someone bought the ring during the week.  I explained that I was waiting for news, but couldn’t bring myself to buy myself a gift prematurely.

Maybe the owner has the same arrangement with her own husband, because she offered to tuck it behind the counter for me until next weekend.  If I got good news this week, I could come back for it next weekend.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have that ring haunting me every time I looked down at my hand.   If the news took longer to receive than next weekend, I’d let the ring go and buy myself a different piece of jewelry there when the time came.  That was the best point about the store–there were dozens of pieces I liked.  I didn’t need to wrap my heart around a single piece to feel whole.

I took a photo of the ring and emailed it to Josh, asking if he’d buy it for me if I got good news.  He offered, in the moment, to just get me the ring now as a whatever gift.  Something pretty that would make me happy when I looked at it.  But that didn’t feel right either.  In the twenty minutes I was in the store, too much meaning had been already wrapped up in what the ring represented–a beginning–and I didn’t want to jinx things even if I know that causality doesn’t work that way.  What I mean is, I can wait if the fortune is true.  And it usually is because bad news is followed by good news which is followed by bad news, and the universe chases its tail again and again.

I drove home smiling, not just because I had an amazing day with my sister-cousin, but because I had already formulated a wordless blog post in my head for some time in the future when I simply post a picture of my hand, and a gorgeous, four-stone ring.

How do you mark special moments?


1 tash { 01.18.10 at 10:57 am }

I don’t anymore. How awful is that. I try and end-run my own birthday, don’t care about Christmas, forget about my current state. You’ve given me some inspiration though, that maybe I should at least try, somehow. Maybe start with a brownie or something.

2 Battynurse { 01.18.10 at 11:46 am }

I love this post. Love it. Especially the paragraph that starts about Josh drawing a line in the sand. This is so true and something that has been running through my mind so much lately. The whole idea to enjoy the happiness you have now. I hope you get your ring.
As far as how I mark special moments? Usually with food but I’m trying to find a new way around that.

3 Lavender Luz { 01.18.10 at 11:54 am }

Yin Yang. Yin Yang. Yin Yang.

I can’t wait to see the ring on your finger.

Uh, I guess we don’t have a way of marking special moments. Unless you count Perfect Moment Mondays.


4 Kristin { 01.18.10 at 12:11 pm }

We don’t have a set method for recognizing special moments. I really like your method.

5 Kristi { 01.18.10 at 12:15 pm }

I wish I had a method like buy jewelry or get a tattoo but most of the time is a toast of my favorite adult beverage Corona Light with Lime.

6 Mrs. Spit { 01.18.10 at 2:08 pm }

We try to celebrate – usually with a meal, and given our weight, we need to find something better, or at least pick healthier meals.

I’m a huge fan of celebrations – absolutely huge.

7 Shelli { 01.18.10 at 2:12 pm }

I don’t, and that makes me sad because I once did.

Hoping for you, for whatever your heart desires… xo

8 a { 01.18.10 at 2:59 pm }

We don’t celebrate special moments either. But, then again, our lives are relatively placid, and we don’t have much that requires a special celebration.

9 chickenpig { 01.18.10 at 3:05 pm }

I usually celebrate special moments with jewelry too. When we had our baby girl in 2008 ago my husband bought me one of those journey necklaces in her birthstone. (rubies). Talk about drawing a line, my husband didn’t get me a piece of jewelry until we had her in our arms. Our boys were born 6 months before our 10th wedding anniversary, and my husband bought me a diamond anniversary band. He probably would have bought me an anniversary band anyway, but the band has extra special meaning for me regardless.

10 Lyn C { 01.18.10 at 3:49 pm }

I write about it. If it’s something light and fluffy, I post about it on my public blog. If it’s actually important (for instance, anything related to family-building) I post on my super-secret password-protected blog.

What you wrote about “when was the right time?” Right there with you. Thank you for articulating this; I’m glad it’s not just me.

11 Bionic Baby Mama { 01.18.10 at 4:50 pm }

i am the WORST about moving that line in the sand further and further away. i need to get better at celebrating where i am, i think, instead of moving the target in a way that means i’m never satisfied.

thanks for the reminder.

12 Bea { 01.18.10 at 4:51 pm }

Sometimes, I think it’s just great to just pause and sit and savour. I don’t have a particular routine otherwise – do different things for different events – but I try and remember to do the pausing more often these days.

Good luck waiting for the news.


13 Vee { 01.18.10 at 6:05 pm }

I love this post! For us every moment is special these days, so we try and catch them on film or video as much as we can. It’s all about capturing the memories. Thank you.

All the best waiting for your news.

14 JC { 01.18.10 at 6:33 pm }

I loved this post! I can’t wait until you get your good news and can post a pic of the ring on your finger!!! I usually buy myself something too, sometimes jewelry, sometimes purse or perfume or something girly. There’s always an occasion!

ps-you could have gotten it for making it through your oral surgery. 😉

15 Sunny { 01.18.10 at 8:24 pm }

I can’t wait to see that ring on your finger.

I do have some special jewelry from DH, but really I’d have to say that we treat ourselves to a special dinner at a restaurant we couldn’t normally afford. We love dining out together, and it feels romantic that only WE know why we have giant smiles on our faces.

16 Terry { 01.18.10 at 8:35 pm }

I just loved your post.
I love celebrating big and small stuff. I get a ring when I travel…unfortunately they don’t last, I always lose a stone. Pfft.
But I get pedicures, manicures, new clothes, a coffee and when it’s a big celebration like when I heard my ex-roommate went to prison (finally) I had a big dinner with a friend. Yeah, weird story.

17 FET Accompli { 01.18.10 at 11:51 pm }

A beautiful post. I really did love it. And hope to see the beautiful ring on your finger.

18 coffeegrl { 01.19.10 at 6:08 am }

Hmmmm. We used to celebrate with a really nice bottle of wine and maybe dinner out or something really special and indulgent that we’d cook at home. It’s been a while since we’ve really celebrated. Buying things and gifts is not in my husband’s nature. But every once in a while he does surprise me with flowers and I try to find little things that have real meaning to him. He loves it when I update our scrapbook – the scrapbook of us and our relationship (usually to celebrate major life events) but it has been a while since I’ve done that either…

19 TexasRed { 01.19.10 at 8:32 am }

Love this post. Ever since I was a kid on family road trips, I’ve been a fan of buying myself jewelry as memory sparks.

I lucked into a husband who likes buying me jewelry, too. Our first married Christmas he got me a charm bracelet. It has 4 charms on it now (first Christmas, first married V-day, first anniversary, second Christmas). Just last week when we were having our IVF prep meeting with the RE I started thinking about when would be appropriate to get a family-building themed charm — exactly for the reason of not wanting to jinx anything (or wanting to get something early on that would just be a reminder of the treatment not working).

20 MeAndBaby { 01.19.10 at 10:11 am }

I think I’m going to start this tradition. Or one just like it. What a great idea and outlook – celebrate today’s victories.

I can’t wait to see your ring!

21 Amel { 01.19.10 at 10:11 am }

Hi, new here, but I’d love to drop a comment anyway he he…This is a beautiful post and I find myself imagining the ring and the store. Mmmm…

How do we mark special moments? Hmmm…hubby’s not someone who buys me rings or jewelry or flowers. He’s not romantic in that way, but he is romantic in his own way. For birthdays usually we just buy each other a gift and for wedding anniversary either I bake a cake or we buy a cake or sometimes MIL buys us a cake and we eat it together ha ha…

My fave quality time with hubby (my special treat) is when we can go to his parents’ cabin (‘coz it’s the place where he proposed me). In the cabin there’s no electricity, so it’s just the two of us, surrounded by nature. 😀

And of course I also blog about our wedding anniversary and write about our marriage journey and stuff he he…

22 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 01.19.10 at 10:42 am }

I usually mark special moments by recording them more than celebrating them. Photos and blog posts, mostly. Occasionally we celebrate in the form of a trip to somewhere amazing.

Generally, I think we tend to deemphasize big moments because DH and I both prefer to focus on the everyday, and we just try to make every day special.

23 Kate (Bee In The Bonnet) { 01.19.10 at 11:44 am }

I usually celebrate with a special meal, and a special token of some kind, though as much as I love my husband, I’ve just learned to not get my hopes up for gifts that I like. I like that he spends his time looking for things that he thinks I might like, but it’s really, really hard to pretend that I like the actual thing he’s given me. Again, I like the thought, but have a hard time wearing the ugly-to-the-point-of-absurdity necklace.

So, in the past few years, I’ve kind of given up on any real celebration of major events. I have the love of this amazing person in my life every day, and I realize how incredibly lucky we are in our lives, but I’ve given up on there being any sort of physical momento of the bigger moments in our life because he does not count among his qualities the ability to pick good gifts. We have great meals together and great memories. That would have to be the way we best celebrate good moments in our lives.

(Jesus, I sound like a TOTAL bitch. My husband buys me nice stuff, but unless I directly pick it out, it’s something that’s horribly wrong. Got a great camera for my birthday one year -picked it out myself-, got a great ring one christmas -picked it out myself-, got an appallingly ugly necklace this christmas, because we looked at a few at a store, and I suggested three that I liked but said I didn’t really want any jewelry, and so he bought a totally separate necklace from that same store that I recall saying was 100% opposite of my taste, but didn’t buy the camera bag that I had been begging for for months. He is such a great person, but he can’t pick out gifts to save his life.

Ungrateful bitch, that’s me.

But if it makes me seem any nicer, I’m wearing this tacky Christmas necklace today, mostly because he looks so incredibly happy when he sees me wearing/using the things he buys me, and I like seeing him looking so happy…)

24 jodifur { 01.20.10 at 11:57 am }

This post is so beautiful. Last year my husband bought me a 3 stone diamond ring I had been lusting after for coming through a lupus diagnosis with both feet on the ground. And man I love that ring.
I’m not sure what your news is, but if there is anything I have learned this year it is this, there is always another side.

25 Jamie { 01.20.10 at 1:53 pm }

I guess I don’t really have a way of marking special moments which is odd since I am a big celebrater. I like what you wrote about drawing a line in the sand. I tend to lean on the cautious side as well. There are things that need to be celebrated and rejoiced. I should live more in the moment rather than, “Okay, when we get past the ~next~ hurdle . . .”

26 Audrey { 01.21.10 at 10:30 am }

What a wonderful post! The fortune, the rings, sigh…

Oh, and I love Shepherdstown and have a fantasy “happy place” picked out there for fantasy weekends away.

Anyway, I think I bake to mark occasions. And while that makes us happy, I like your approach better. One of the negative things that has happened with us in our recent history is that we’ve lost our whimsy. Baking is about as celebratory and as decadent as it gets. But that’s not by design and should perhaps change. Thank you for another thought-provoking post.

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