Tuesday, 24 July 2007

with this ring

There are very few things in my life I am truly wedded to. I've shed my skin quite a few times and often the people who get to know me are given to say things like, is there anything you haven't done? I've always been a person who believes that my life is richest when I am experiencing new things.

Of course on the inside things stay pretty much the same, even if they continue to evolve as I get older and wiser. It's just the outside that can appear new.

I think the only thing I can say has always been there, on the outside, is my family. For seven years now I have worn this ring every day as a celebration of the sisterhood of my family.
Three separate elements representing my mother, my sister and myself are embedded in an imprinted monal medallion and then set in a ring. My sister and mother have subtle variations on the same ring. The artist who made them for us, Marion Marshall (sorry no website), spent a long time talking to us and trying to design something that really captured our relationship as well as us as individuals. I could go on about the stories it tells me, but that's another post.

Given my feelings on the transience of the world outside it's not surprising that I have not married. Both my heart and my head tell me that a good number, more than half, of relationships do not endure and I've always thought marriage was like signing on for a contractual obligation you had no capacity to know if you would be able to fulfill. People who go on loving each other stay together and those that don't should part ways.

I have other problems with marriage for me.

On the church side, I just don't have a meaningful connection with that institution. This is not a statement about my spirituality, it is a much more intellectual thing about what churches are and what they do and how binding I would find a commitment made to it's structures.

On the civil side I see the policy makers' definitions of marriage and cohabitation and de facto and significant other as being increasingly interchangeable. I feel no need, nor do I believe I should have to get married to understand my relationship as real. Perhaps if people who got married really truly did ride the waves of better as well as worse for as long as they both lived, I might see that ceremony as something other than what I do.

D and I have been together for nearly fifteen years and I feel more committed, more wedded to him that ever. Maybe if I felt trapped by marriage during the times when we have found it hard to work together I might have left. But I haven't and I am aware that each and every time we choose to work through a bump in the road we do it because we believe in each other and what we are together.

And if ever I had any doubts then having Amy changed that. We may not have married but we now have a living breathing commitment to each other in the form of our children and no matter what comes or goes from here on out, we will always be a part of each other as a consequence.

So when Amy was born D commissioned this ring for me (also from Marion). I love every thing about this ring. It is solid and heavy and strong and tells the story of how two parts come together to embrace a whole new element. A perfect fit. Showing great foresight he had it designed so I could add another ring above it should our union be blessed again.

So I've had the pleasure of not just acquiring another ring to celebrate Wil, but of thinking through what Wil means and how our union has evolved. And I love this piece to bits. It is made by Yuri Fujiyama (purchased here. drool drool) and inspired by Japanese sashiko, which I didn't know when I picked it out but which, given my obsession for fabric and Japan seems entirely predestined.

I look at this and I see the way I have softened, the way organic forms have taken over the hard lines and careful geometry of my pre-child life, the way things are all about layers on layers of different elements glimpsed here and hidden there. But the basic elements, the raw materials are still all there, just in a new configuration. Yuri writes that her pieces are light and yet durable and that's so much more how I see D and I these days. So much less of a burden on each other and yet so much more strongly bound.

So we haven't had a ceremony and I haven't worn the dress and we haven't re mortgaged our home for all our friends to eat rubber chicken but...you know, these rings and all they represent are my daily reminder of what I am wedded to. And I am as happy about that as any bride could be.


kirsten said...

lovely rings (great shop, i love that place!) and lovely post.

feli said...

"I've always been a person who believes that my life is richest when I am experiencing new things"

I totally agree with you. I am also constantly trying and experiencing new things and I will not stop until I try all of them. :*)

I love love love your rings BTW.

Jess said...

beautiful words and images. you and your family are very lucky.

SadieandLance said...

Sooz, what a lovely post and what beautiful rings.

Amanda Edwards said...

I admire your sincerity and commitment. And the rings as a daily reminder are beautiful. I lost my wedding ring 3 years ago...I think I should follow your lead and get a ring made about my family and my commitment to them. Thankyou for sharing!

melindatrees said...

waaaa.im really happy for you too.so lovely to read, thankyou.now i better work out how to get over the bump my husband and i are at.... :(

ruthee said...

It was very liberating for me to realize that I was bound to my partner (and father of my child) without being married.

Explaining this idea to others can be frustrating amid their questions of "why don't you just get married", etc.

All the while, I secretly smile to myself - knowing that I am perfectly happy as things are.

Jamila said...

Beautiful rings. I understand your position on marriage. For me, marriage only has meaning in a spiritual context, it is a partnership with God at the centre. If it doesn't work, it can be dissolved, but I do believe that everything should be put into making it work.

sooz said...

Actually Amanda the commissioned family ring was a response to the theft of my mother’s wedding and other precious ring – her planned inheritance for my sister and I. She felt sad that she had no other ‘good’ jewellery to pass on to us and hence the rings. The process of designing the ring with someone like Marion, who specializes in commemorative rings, was very illuminating and is an important part of how I feel about the ring.

And you have my sympathy Melinda. The bumps suck and are hard and very consuming. Good luck.

Lee-Fay said...

Thats a beautiful story. Being bound together through your children. Happy ring wearing!

ms. pea said...

soozs, that was so eloquent.

Penni said...

Love your rings.
Being whimsical, mercurial and indecisive getting married was a way of making peace with myself. But I was never a bride. We eloped in secret.

katie said...

Hooray for all of that - what a thoughtful and wonderful post. thank you so much for sharing this - you have made me reflect on my own situation - and that is always a good thing to do. thank you, thank you

VictoriaE said...

That is a beautiful and touching post and inspiring to read.

Angela Savage said...

Beautiful post, Sooz. Must remind Roo again about the 'custom' of purchasing a beautiful ring for your partner to commemorate the birth of a baby... That said, I'm more inclined to think about a commemorative tattoo ;-)

sueeeus said...

Beautiful post. Beautiful rings.

Sometimes I wish I'd not gone through the formality of marriage, but I sort of chickened out under my own social pressures. I admire your strength and sincerity in your relationship. It's very rich, indeed.

melissa said...

this is a beautiful post- you managed to put exactly into words why my partner and i don't feel the need to get married. i love your rings, too, they're beautiful.