“Dana threw away her diamond earrings this weekend.” Insert shock.
I have friends who like to tell the story this way, with only one sentence. But there’s more to it than that.
Some people will probably judge me for it, call me stupid and disregard the rest of what I have to say. But, I’m pretty sure that happens on a regular basis, so I’m not too worried.
For the rest of you, this is how the story really goes.
My friends and I were up in Montreal a couple of weeks ago for a Bachelorette party. We took the train in, sipping on wine in little juice boxes while the cars swished back and forth and everyone on board was thoroughly annoyed with our excited banter. The dirty looks didn’t really bother us much. We were on our way to celebrate with a girl most us have known and loved for more than a decade and there was not a boy in sight to ruin our fun. Precious moments.
And so began a weekend of perhaps too much drinking. But it was on the second night that the incident in question happened.
After a superb dining experience of tzatziki, fried cheese, Greek salad and plate breaking, we headed to a shot bar. The group was scattered between the dance floor and the bar (both of which were plagued with first-time drinkers at least 10 years younger than us scoping the scene while nervously playing with their straws). I was ordering a drink with one of my best friend’s beside me, when I reached up to fiddle with my earring (an unfortunate nervous habit of my own), when the touch came back empty. The small diamond hoop that I always wore wasn’t there.
Panicking, I reached up to grab for the opposite ear, thinking maybe I had taken them both out earlier and forgot to put them back in. Wrong. A solitary earring was dangling there. I had lost the other, somewhere along the journey of the night. Hotel. Cab. Restaurant. Cab. Street. Shot bar. It could have been anywhere.
“I’ve lost my earring!” I cried, out of exasperation, but also because, if you live in a box and don’t know, clubs are loud places and I wanted my bestie to hear the exclamation of distress.
She looked at me, narrowing her eyes to inspect the lobes on either side of my face.
“Who gave those to you?”
I stopped. Of course, it had been my ex. They were a birthday present for my 22nd birthday, when we were still dating. I still remember staring at the tiny box before I first opened it, wondering what lay inside. I had tried to push thoughts of a ring from my mind at the time. It could be anything, I thought. Anything sparkly, that is.
He was always buying me gifts, and not just on special occasions. Seemingly, for no reason at all. Even after we were married, people used to point to this as evidence that I was such a lucky girl.
But the gifts came with a price tag. They were guilt gifts. He hooked up with a girl at a bar; I got treated to a mani with my BFF. He spent the night trolling craigslist for “women seeking men” ads; I got surprised with that dress I’d been admiring in a store window. He got friendly with a member of his sailing club; I got an at-home paraffin wax kit.
Of course, the actual link between cause and effect were mostly unknown to me at the time. But eventually, I started putting the pieces together and crunching the numbers in my head. The price was far too high. I couldn’t afford the relationship anymore. And I left.
Now, I only wonder at the real cost of those diamond earrings I gasped at when I first opened them over six years ago. Whatever it was, I felt done with paying the debt.
“It’s a sign,” she said. “Give me the other one.”
Now, the next bit is what most people will consider a bit crazy. She took the earring in her hand, we joined pinkies, closed our eyes and tossed it behind us.
“Make a wish.”
I got yelled at by various people who heard the story throughout the night, demanding that I go searching for it immediately. But as I joined my friends on the dance floor and grooved out to “Single Ladies” (in a totally ironic type of way), I felt completely liberated. And yes, perhaps a bit tipsy.
Yet looking back, I don’t regret the impulse decision to throw away a symbol of my purchased silence. I had spent so long not being honest or open about the hardships of my marriage, even to the people closest to me. To my own detriment, as well as to the relationships I cherished most. I sacrificed them for the sake of someone who ended not being worth it. I clicked the clasp of my diamond earrings into place every day and put on a smile. I closed myself off.
Now, I feel better. I feel lighter. I feel like I’m back in the world. Life isn’t all lemonade, but it isn’t a complete lemon, either. Piece by piece, I am letting go and embracing the next chapter. One that’s full of friends, family, happiness and, hopefully, a bit of success.
But no diamonds. Diamonds aren’t this girl’s best friend. They aren’t worth near enough for that.