scrap

The same guy who bought my old, unwanted Halloween crap unburdened me of some other junk, too: my wedding and engagement rings.

He was a jeweler who'd seen the ad I'd placed on Craigslist: FOR SALE: Huge lot of Halloween decorations. Latex, plastic, stone, and foam props. Window, wall, and table decor. Hanging items. Yard decorations. Vintage items and one of a kind curios. Animatronic and mechanical decorations. Dolls, clowns, gargoyles, mummies, skeletons, skulls, black lights, string lights, candles, candelabras, dusty old books, brooms, bats, demons, fog machines, headstones, black roses, and police tape. High quality cheese cloth, moss, cotton for webbing. If you're a Halloween person, this is your wet dream.

I'm surprised it didn't get flagged.

When the man had met me at my storage unit to see everything, his profession had come up in conversation. I told him I was looking to unload my rings, and he expressed interest. A few days later, I walked the three blocks from my apartment to his office.

Every time I walk through the jewelry district downtown, I feel like I've stumbled onto the set of Snatch. Eastern European men stand clustered on the sidewalk, talking and smoking outside of jewelry arcades that stretch for blocks. It's a dazzling display of gold, glass, and mirrored surfaces.

The building I visited that day was, however, a typical looking office building, with no flashy storefront. His two-room business was on the eighth floor, and I had to be admitted first by a lobby doorman, then buzzed inside his office. There were cameras everywhere, and I was intrigued by my proximity to (what I wanted to believe were) millions of dollars worth of jewels and precious metals.

When I handed my engagement ring to the jeweler, he examined it carefully first with his naked eye, then with a loupe and magnifying glass. He verified what I knew about the solitaire's quality and weight. He told me something else I already knew, as well: that the resale value of engagement rings is lousy. That my husband had paid a huge markup, by virtue of where he'd bought it. That I'd be getting pennies on the dollar for what he'd spent.

I didn't care. I just wanted it out of my life.

The assessment he gave was matter of fact; dry. He took an objective look at it, pitted its virtues against its flaws, and decided, dispassionately, what its ultimate value was. It was exactly what I'd done with my marriage. And the conclusion I'd come to was similar: not worth nearly what it once seemed.

Next, he looked at my wedding band, which was inlaid with tiny diamonds the whole way round. I'd always preferred it to my engagement ring, which I felt never fit quite right - never sat the way it should on my finger. So many metaphors, so little time.

What he said then caught me by surprise. He asked whether I'd mind if he removed the diamonds so that he could weigh the platinum of the band. I hadn't been expecting that, but I suddenly felt very naive. Of course he's going to take it apart, and sell it for parts. Like a stolen car.

He must have seen my expression, because he said something about it being a potentially painful ordeal - the selling off of the rings. I assured him it wasn't, really. That it was just a bit surreal. He nodded with understanding, and said, "I know. When you're standing up there on your wedding day, in front of all your loved ones, expecting to be together forever..." He trailed off. I didn't correct him. He was still happily married, as far as I knew.

When I left, my wallet slightly heavier for the check he'd written to me, I realized that the physical symbols of my marriage had been reduced to scrap and dollar signs. It wasn't exactly happiness that I felt at that moment. But there was a sense of satisfaction and peace, deep in my gut. It was closure and acceptance.

It was really over. And I was really ok with it.