When I was ready to ask Erin to marry me, soon after I returned to Cleveland from my time in Hawaii and she had graduated from John Carroll University, I went in search of a ring. Problem was, I had hardly any money and there was no way I could give her a flashy diamond-and-gold ring. But mine wasn’t the big-rock style anyway, so I went to a craft fair at one of the private schools on Cleveland’s east side, and I stopped at the table of a jewelry artisan who’d made a delicate ring with a speck of a diamond. I paid a few hundred dollars and was ready to propose: on a drive south to Hilton Head to meet up with her family, Erin and I pitched a tent for a few hours of sleep in a campground in Virginia. In the morning, I asked Erin to spread a white sheet over the picnic table so we could eat our bagels and yogurt. On the sheet, in my crude handwriting: “Erin, will you marry me?”—the ring tied with a ribbon in place of the dot in the question mark.
She said yes, and every day since then (actually, since the very first day I met her in 1991), my existence has been better because of Erin. Because of her, our life together has been rich and rewarding and full of love and adventure. Even the table coverings are better.
Erin and I celebrated 25 years of marriage this past week, with dinner at Hawthorne and Wood and an overnight in the Siena Hotel in Chapel Hill (a momentary illusion of Tuscany, but some day we’ll go for real). In a way, we’ve been celebrating for months; earlier this year, she suggested we needed to update our wedding rings. She found a stunning yellow diamond set in a white gold band and a matching band with a row of smaller diamonds. At the same shop, I picked out a thicker white-gold band to replace my thin yellow-gold band. We love our rings. We love each other.
I do miss my old ring. I often slipped it off my finger and looked to the inside of the band, where this was inscribed: ‘As you wish. 8-10-96.’ But now I twirl the new ring around my finger and I think, twenty-five and counting.
Erin, I love you. Thank you for wearing that simple ring, and holding my hand, and making a life with me for a quarter century.
© Zuiker Chronicles Publishing, LLC