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18 September 2015 @ 02:49 pm
ring finger  

the painter drank, the baker gambled, the banker wouldn’t go to church.


she kept all the rings.

my mother’s father, czech and plains indian, worked at a toothpaste factory and collected cameras. my mother’s father had a heart condition, residual from the rheumatic fever he’d had when he was ten. he’d be one of the first people ever to undergo open heart surgery. he wouldn’t live to see my mother’s seventeenth birthday. nobody knew that then.


my mother’s father married her mother and they made a home in little italy. they made my aunt, first.


a few years later, they made my mother. my mother’s father died from his heart when my mother was sixteen. my mother’s mother died from cancer when my mother was thirty-five. we cleared out her condo in 1986, deciding who would have the bed, the vanity, the bags and bags of costume jewelry that, at the end of it, probably doubled the weight of my grandmother by the time she got to hospice.

[look at this, cried my aunt. look what i found. she held it up, her eyes bright. i think it might be the s_____ family crest, she told us.
my mother squinted, dubious. finally, she said, kat…. kat. that’s the logo from a pack of seagram’s wine cooler. she tapped the painted plastic for emphasis.
oh, said my aunt, sincerely heartbroken. then she thought about that for a minute. by the time it clicked into place, my mother and me were collapsed respectively on the bed and the bedroom floor in the sort of uncontrollable laughter you know best when you are newly in love, newly diagnosed with cancer, or three days out of your mother’s month-long hospice stay. before my aunt caught up with us, she pressed us to remember that it was four o’clock in the morning, which only made the whole thing funnier.
words can’t express how much i grew up those weeks i helped clean out my grandmother’s condo.]


i took the painter’s ring when i was fourteen, thinking maybe, i don’t know what i was thinking. it dropped down to the base of my thumb and hung like a bangle. not quite so large now, the ring still looks ridiculous on the finger it was intended for. it’s been sized, you can see the insert at the back of the band. once i cut a length of thread and fit it to the unsized majority of the ring; the ring, as it was crafted, would have fit me perfectly, or so i’ve convinced myself.

you could size it, i told ben, years ago. or maybe: don’t buy anything like that for me. i prided myself in being ready-made for engagement. a budget bride. a good deal more lax around recreational substances and church-going, too(1). i will give you the ring, you can size it, then give it back to me. the last time we discussed it: please god, i said in late 2012, do not propose to me in the recovery room. i will not be at my best. he didn't. this is no longer a matter we discuss.


there’s a culture of superstition in my maternal line i’ve yet to encounter anywhere else, but it plagued me through my youth (because i rebelled from it) and still gets to me now (because i’m old enough to confirmation-bias nonexistent patterns into being). for example:

  • do not buy a new thing on a friday; it will be faulty, prone to accident, or otherwise destructive to you in some way.
  • if you absolutely must buy a new thing on a friday, do not use it until saturday. (oh, when christmas fell on friday, people. when christmas fell on friday.)
  • do not eat chicken on new year’s day or you will spend the rest of the year “scratching the earth” to get by.
  • do not ever, ever, ever put on another woman’s engagement ring, even with her permission, even if it is for a broken engagement, or you’ll die a spinster.

  • live and learn, i guess.

    (1) major lesson from this incarnation: when men compliment you on being so much more easy-going and low maintenance than the women they actually date, it might not be a compliment.
    mood: godDAMN i love the police
    music: secret journey
    (Anonymous) on September 20th, 2015 02:44 am (UTC)
    Just for starters your family takes a better pictures and I like your stories better as well.
    selva oscura: [rs] sofaanonymousblack on September 20th, 2015 05:02 am (UTC)
    My grandfather appears to have been an amazing photographer. I've been meaning to put together a project utilizing some of it for quite some time.
    slouiseslouise on September 22nd, 2015 04:20 am (UTC)
    beautiful writing
    selva oscuraanonymousblack on September 22nd, 2015 06:35 am (UTC)