"OK, honey. You have a couple of options here. We can do the free cleaning, or we can spend a little more time and for $40, we'll buff out all these marks that have built up. It'll look as beautiful as it did the first day you put it on! And oh my, what is that? Is that paint stuck under one of your stones on the side there? What have you been doing?"
I resisted the urge to hang my head in shame at the state of my wedding ring, and bristled a little bit at the tone of the attendant behind the counter - an annoying blend of chipper dismay. Compared with all the shiny new rings in their cases, beautifully lit on their velvet cushions, my ring definitely looked a little battered. The sight of my simple, battered, lovely little ring on that salesperson's elegant, well-manicured hand for safe-keeping had me feeling like Corduroy with his missing button. And suddenly, I found myself hating the mall even more than usual. That's saying a lot, because I loathe the mall.
I started to think about what caused all those marks. I'm sure at least a few of them have come from all the times Andrew and I have moved furniture (look at what I found at a garage sale, honey!), or from the countless dishes that get washed around here (seriously, so many dishes), and from the yard work that we're always behind on (but I keep trying...every now and again). I'm sure some of them have been caused by banging my ring on the edge of the bathtub whilst rinsing the day's grime off little bodies, or from chopping firewood, or building the stone wall in our backyard. Andrew has his fair share of gouges on his ring from the same things - I am (so thankfully!!) not alone on this roller coaster of living. I make stuff, and my ring bears the evidence of my leisure time. This ring is a symbol of the best things in my life, and who cares if it doesn't look perfect? Those marks mean that life has happened - I have made lots of food and done stuff with my hands and wiped away tears (some of my own), and I have worn this ring and felt it press into my husband's hand as we walked on the beach and to and from the mailbox, and do I really want eight years of life buffed away? What a waste of $40!
All this passed through my head in the time that it took me to take a breath. I breathed in, smiled, and said, "The standard cleaning will be fine. I like my scratches."