A year ago today. Fred and I walking back from a mediocre coffee in the city centre. I always think morning coffee will save me, or afternoon tea, or happy hour with a nattery girlfriend. Sometimes it does.
But not that morning. The coffee was just coffee. The café girl didn’t wait long enough for me to open my Spanish mouth and ask for something to eat. So I brandished a BioCentury rice cake under her nose, crunched it noisily and silently dared her to complain. Counted out the exact change for our coffees, and worse: I opened a bag of sugar and spilled most of it on the table, then moved my cup and saucer over to cover it and make it harder to clean. I left the cafe feeling mad, bad and empty of grace.
We started walking home. I twitched my leather jacket into place and shouldered my handbag. My fingers just brushed against the bottom of the zipped breast pocket and I felt something hard, round, hollow. It couldn’t be. I passed my fingertips over it again. I told Fred to stop and sat down hard on the window ledge of H&M. Delving inside the pocket, my fingers closed on my long-lost engagement ring. The ring I’d lost a year ago, the ring I had for 25 years. The ring Fred bought me in Harrogate, delicate Art Deco platinum circle with a baguette diamond flanked by two aquamarines (for courage and energy). A faerie ring for a slender English blonde, I always thought, but what did I care, his vision was clouded with love and nothing was too good for me, sausage fingers and all.
The ring I dreaded telling him I’d lost, and when I did, he went mad and cursed us out of the bar we’d just been chatting in. Cursed me for a careless jade, as if I had just tossed the ring out with a chewing gum wrapper one day. I sulked for two days and then told him this was the end and I was going back to London. Which got his attention and contrition.
Now, perched outside H&M, I shouted, laughed and cried, light-headed with surprise and relief. In this, our silver wedding year, no other jewel could have been so precious, so heavy with experience and memories. Now it’s back home again, pillowed on silk in its morocco leather box, while I wonder what on earth I did to have it gifted back to me.