Sunday, April 7, 2013

“I'm aware of the mystery around us, so I write about coincidences, premonitions, 
emotions, dreams, the power of nature, magic.” — Isabel Allende

I have a Magic Ring.
It was given to me when I was a very lonely teenager, thrust against my will to a strange city. My father had lost his business in Manhattan. It came at the crossroads of a slow, torturous path along which we never knew what it was like not to worry. There were many reasons for the loss. Some were not his fault. Others came from a deeply disappointed life. He looked for salvation in bars where there was none and he drank deeply of what was offered.
We were moved to Hartford, Connecticut in the summer before my senior year of high school. I went from a vibrant, artistic, racially mixed community of school friends at the High School Of Art & Design in Manhattan to become the stranger in a senior class where black kids were bussed into the school’s white population.
I met a man, a Native American—Zuni—who was a stock boy where I had an after school job in a department store in downtown Hartford. I had a habit of attaching myself to older people who took to me kindly. Lost children tend to do that. We became friends. He knew a lot about art and we passed many hours wandering through the Wadsworth Atheneum. We were the odd couple. He was forty something, dark skinned and quiet. I was an excitable blonde teenager. Our love of art and our sense of being strangers on the planet was our commonality.
He never chastised me for gloomy self-indulgence and always championed the laughter out of me. He told me he suspected I had some spiritual powers that would awaken in me. He was never anything but kind, considerate, and a little bit mysterious. He thought reading to his mother, who was blind, would be a good thing to take my mind off my own problems. I did that.
He gave me the ring—a silver band set with eight turquoise tiles. It had belonged to his great grandfather and passed down to the eldest son until it came to a halt with Ralph. He had no son for whom to pass it along. He thought it best to ask permission of my parents before offering to me. He did. My father was suspicious. My mother suggested it might better suit her. “No,” he told them, “Your daughter should have it.” And then he revealed I had been spending my Saturdays reading to his mother. He did not tell them it was a Magic Ring.
And so he gave it to me. He told me it was a Magic Ring and that it would keep me safe as long as I continued on a giving path. And then, he said, “It doesn’t really matter. The ring has chosen you.”
I had never taken it off my ring finger until I had shoulder surgery some years back. It had to be cut off but I put it on another finger as soon as I could. It was a little too loose and one birthday, just into my 60s, we celebrated in Montauk and it disappeared. We searched everywhere. We combed through the motel room, retraced our steps, even, ridiculously, looked for it in the ever-shifting sand dunes. I had hoped, by some miracle, that I had left it at home. But, there it was, in all it’s turquoise magic, in a photograph of me in the diner on the way to Land’s End. I knew then it was forever lost in Montauk, possibly in the Atlantic Ocean. I said a quiet good-bye and hoped it would find its way to the hand of another who would embrace its magic.
Nine months later, in Leicester for The Mister’s birthday, I was digging around for the lost bus tickets we’d need on our way home from the airport and found it in a deep pocket. It went right back on my little finger, where it remains. My Magic Ring.
I’ve told this story before, but now, in a certain time, that could possibly become uncertain, I give a little nod of gratitude to the ring because I know where the magic comes from. It comes from a man who showed a young, maybe selfish, girl how to be kind. 

1 comment:

Marianne said...

This is such a wonderful story. It is just the kind of thing that happens to remind you that you're always loved, and always watched over. Your dear friend never left you.