~ notes from an uncommon journey ~

The Amazing True Story of How I Lost my Ring and Got it Back Again

So my car's been having this issue. (How does this relate to my ring, you might be asking? Oh, all in good time, my dears.) A portion of the plastic (rubber?) shield that lines the car's underbody by the front passenger-side tire has torn, and now part of it is hanging down. Sometimes when I drive, it flaps against the tire and/or scrapes the ground. I've actually had another portion of that shield get damaged before. My trusty mechanic was having a hard time ordering a new one, so he called Honda, who said it was safe to drive without it. So I had him just take it off. Well, now the other side's come undone. Naturally. So this other part of it being torn wasn't a big deal; it's just annoying when it scrapes or flaps while I'm driving.

So this past Thursday morning, before going to work, I knelt down by the tire and tucked that plastic piece up under the metal lip (at the outside of the wheel well) so it'd drive better. I stood up and as I was walking around the front of my car, brushed my now-dirty hands on my pants. (Real sanitary, I know.) I got in my car and started heading to work. A couple blocks later, I notice: my ring's not on my hand. Yes, this ring--my widow's ring:

That says "Always in my heart & soul," in case you're wondering.
So I cycle back to the apartment. I'm thinking: I thought I put it back on, but maybe it's still on my makeup organizer in the bathroom. Or maybe I took it off briefly for some reason when I stopped in my bedroom to grab my phone. Nope. It's not in either place. It's not on the couch. It's not under the couch cushion where I usually sit. It's not on the coffee table or the bookshelf. (Looked in those last few places even though I didn't stop at any of them on my way out. Ya never know, right?)

I go back outside and check the grass--where I'd walked to the car, around where I'd parked the car and knelt down by it and brushed my hands off. I don't see it.

But I'm thinking, Well I gotta go to work, so...I'll have to deal with this later. So--I go to work. And just about all I can think about is...you guessed it--the ring! When I told a coworker about it, she said if I had a magnet, I should use that to try and find it in the grass. Anyway, I finally decided to take a half day and try again to find it. So I e-mailed my boss and told him I'd had "a bit of a personal emergency" come up and I was going to take off to deal with it.

When I got home, the spot where my car had been and the one next to it are empty, and the car that had been next to mine (on the other side) is still there. I park in the spot next to where my car had been, figuring that'd make checking the spot where it had been easier. I looked back and forth across that entire parking spot (and more of the lot) and across all the same stretches of grass I'd looked at earlier and more. I looked again in: the bathroom, the bedroom, the living room--this time checking some places I know it isn't...just in case. It's not in any of them.

So I decide to try the magnet thing. I own several magnets (mostly of the refrigerator variety), but one of the strongest is inside a makeup-brush handle of all things. (It's a single handle with which you can use multiple interchangeable brush heads.) So I grab it and head outside. I walked to the now-empty spot where my car had been and kneel on the curb. Holding the magnetic brush handle in my hand, I dragged it back and forth across that entire stretch of grass between the curb and where the grass ends by the first apartment. I probably looked kind of foolish. I did not care. But...that yielded nothing.

I start to wonder if any of my neighbors have seen it. So I start with the neighbors on one side of me. I've met this couple but, beyond saying "Hi" when we see each other and occasionally asking if they'd turn their music down, I've not interacted with them much.

The guy of the couple was home, so I tell him the situation, and he asks me many of the typical questions you'd ask someone who's lost something. We talk about it for a while, and he says he'll keep an eye out for it. I went back to look at the grass--again.

Mere moments after the he had closed his door, the neighbor comes walking out toward the parking lot. I don't know what he was headed out to do, but, just making conversation, I say "I've already done this--a few times!" So we get to talking about it some more. We check the grass. We look all around my car. We look in the now-empty parking spaces. We look under my car and under the other car sitting right there. We don't see it anywhere.

As we keep talking, the conversation starts to evolve from my ring and car into stuff about our lives. At some point he tells me a little story that illustrates trouble in his marriage. I don't know why he felt the need to tell me this, but he did. We talked a bit about our personalities and backgrounds. As part of all this he tells me a couple of things about himself: 1) he's an extreme introvert, and 2) he's hyper intuitive about people: he can read very quickly and very strongly whether someone's a scumbag or not. He claims that the vast majority of the time he's been proven right.

At another point in this conversation we start talking about holidays, and how Christmas has to such a large degree come to mean that we "must" buy each other things and how "so over it" we both are. He then complains about Sweetest Day. Well...as one who's lost her fiance, I feel a bit different about that one. He (my neighbor) doesn't know my story, and I didn't feel like getting into it right then, so I just said, "Well, let me just say: I'd give just about anything to have Sweetest Day mean something in my life." He seemed to understand the basic idea of what I was getting at and said "Yeah, OK."

After awhile I decide I need to go back inside and take it easy for awhile before having to get ready for my other job. But before I do, I ask for his number. Many times in the years I've lived here, especially if it's late and I'm tired, I've wished I could just text them to ask for the music to be lower...so I don't have to get up and go over there to ask. He says, "Or I could just call you and then you'll have my number." I say OK and give him mine.

Well, this is where it gets "interesting." I'm not inside for very long before he texts me, and...let's just say he hinted that he was going to "go crude" on me. I'll tell you this much: he asked if my phone accepted pictures by text. I'll let you figure out what he was going to do with that.

I told him I do not play that way, especially with a married man. By the way, this is now the 3rd (that I know of!) in-a-troubled-marriage-but-still-married man to come on to me, and I am sooo tired of it. It's tempting to think: Maybe I'm too "caring and understanding." But I know: this is their behavior and they--and only they--are responsible for it.

Before it was all said and done, he: gave me excuses for his behavior ('it's been so hard with everything going on in my life and it's just so rare to find someone who understands me'), tells me he has an impulse control problem (uh yeah, just a little!) and agrees with me that a) the fact that he responded to our one real conversation by going "right there" is a big problem, b) he does not, in fact, want to become "that guy" (the very kind he can supposedly "read"??), and c) counseling would be a good idea.

After this conversation is over, it's time for me to go to my other job. So I go out to the car, start it, and back out. And as I'm backing out, I feel a small bump. I instantly think, "Could that have been my ring?!? Should I stop? Probably not. Oh, wait--yes, duh! It's worth a shot!" So I stop the car (in the middle of the parking lot) and get out.

I look right in front of my car. I don't see it. My eyes travel from there to the parking space I have just vacated. But--rather than being right by where the car is now siting, my ring is...sitting on the asphalt...up by the curb (in the space I'd just vacated), reflecting in the sun.

So...what happened to it? Did it sit right there all day? No, no way. I certainly would have seen it in one of my many reviews of that very spot.

The only explanation that fits the evidence is this: It somehow slipped off my finger without my knowing it while I was adjusting that plastic flap in the morning and got lodged somewhere in the wheel well. And it stayed there--as I drove all the way to and from my first job, over 20 miles each way and most of it freeway--and then it got dislodged as I backed out again.

And you know what I think? I think I was meant to have that experience. I was meant to lose the ring, I was meant to return home when I did, I was meant to have that conversation with my neighbor--all of it...so I could speak some truth and wisdom into his hurting and, yes, messed-up psyche.

It's the only explanation that fits the evidence.

P.S. I have no idea whether he will or even intends to get the help that he needs, and I don't really intend to find out. I am now "on guard" about him, in case anyone is now worried. It's on him to change. I can only hope that he will.

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