(Stories from My Childhood)
I have this idea for a little series of essays I’d like to write. I have no idea if it would be interesting to anyone but me… but recently I’ve been fascinated by some memories from my early childhood of various objects that had some emotional resonance for me. And the more time I spend remembering, the more various objects pop into my consciousness.
So, I have no idea where this is going or how many of these I do. But I’m thinking it might eventually be the Story of My Childhood in [So Many] Objects. Here’s the first one.
This is a memory from when I was in elementary school. I have no real idea of how old I was, but at least one memory of having the ring at the after school daycare I went to, so I have to have been school-aged.
A friend of my father gave me a ring. I think his name was Herb? Maybe he was a colleage or someone my dad did business with? I have no idea why he gave a little girl this ring. Maybe it wasn’t his style. Maybe he just wanted to make me happy. Maybe he found it and decided to pass it on. I remember almost nothing about him except that I thought he was old. The ring was the thing.
It was a magic ring. Of that I was sure. Or rather I was sure that I wanted it to be a magic ring and that if any ring was ever going to be magic, it was this one. But, I think I was already old enough that part of me didn’t really believe in magic. I knew that it was a story I was telling myself. But still, I knew that this ring HAD to be a magic ring.
It was a funny shape. I’ve never seen one anything like it before or since, which sometimes makes me almost doubt that it was real. Oh but I know it was real. I coudn’t have made it up because really I’m not good at making things up. I wanted to be, oh how I wanted to be good at making believe. But I never really believed any story that I made up. Only what I read in books. And even then I only was able to suspend my disbelief for as long as I was immersed in the book. As soon as my eyes looked up I knew that the magic world wasn’t real. I was a pragmatist from an early age, I guess.
Anyway, the shape. It was a sort of large cone shape. And all around the cone were set small oval shaped colored stones. In rows. Maybe two rows? Or three? Each colored stone was different, no two alike. That was definitely magic. Not all were pretty colors, and all together it was, to be honest, a little unharmonious, a little overload. It wasn’t really a pretty ring. It was an enchanting ring. I looked at each little oval stone an wondered what it did. What magic might come from it if I pushed it the right way or said the right words? I remember feeling it with my finger and with my mouth, running my lips and my tongue over the irregular smoothnesses of its surfaces.
Oh where did that ring go? How did I ever lose it? I think I vaguely remember one or more of the stones coming out of the settings? I remember keeping it safe in the small white plastic case which was a pyramid on its side that had an image of the Infant of Prague behind a plexiglass square lid that I don’t think was supposed to come off but I pried if off and kept treasures in the secret place behind the picture. I think, though I’m not sure, that my Grandmother Carter gave me that frame.
I asked my sister if she remembered this ring and she said my description sounded vaguely familiar. In my attempts to see if I could find anything at all that looked like it online, I found some rings labeled “Thai princess wedding rings” that look vaguely like what I remember; but not exactly the right shape or design. And so it remains a mystery, locked in my head. I cannot remember it clearly enough to draw it or to show it to you. But I know in my heart it was real and it was a treasure. And something deep within me still longs for it.