My friend drove with my girls to pick it up. It was after 2 p.m.; we had only a few hours of daylight left. While I waited for my friend to arrive with the metal detector, a pack of parents and children and dogs arrived with cross-country ski equipment. Though I was too dazed to remember, I must have told them I lost a ring because I heard them wondering aloud if it was my wedding ring.
I didn’t answer.
An older woman with another dog showed up and joined the skiing crowd. She was talking loudly, asking what was going on, and I was protecting my snow from their dogs, wishing they would leave me in silence to mourn. There was no way I would find it.
When the skiers left, the woman came over and said, “Is it your wedding ring?”
“No,” I said, too sharply.
A few minutes later, a man ran by, making eye contact in a way that made me think he might know me — it’s a small town — but I didn’t recognize him. He stopped running and asked if I was all right. “You look distraught,” he said.
“I lost my ring.”
“Your wedding ring?”
“No! I’m not married.” I didn’t mask my exasperation.
I’d flustered him. He was so kind. I was so sad. He left, and I stared at the snow. No ring. No mother. No husband. Not even a uterus! How easy it would have been for me to dissolve into a pity party. But in reality, I was jazzed about the surgery. In reality, I love my life, my family, my boyfriend.
Why did the wedding-ring assumption keep setting me off? On vacation, nearly everyone we met called my boyfriend my husband. Talking to another couple on the beach, he referred to one of my children as “our daughter.” Do we need to be married? I don’t know. Mostly, as my boyfriend likes to say, I want for nothing.