It wasn't really a big surprise when he proposed.
For starters, when we decided to fly back east together so I could meet his parents, we weren't exactly rolling in the grad-student cash. It was a big ticket item, presumably for an important reason. Also, there was the little fact of the party. See, his parents were throwing a party while we were back there, in honor of their kids, each of whom was graduating that year (one from high school, one from college, one from grad school). But during the party, a good quarter of the guests came up to me and welcomed me to the family, telling me how lucky I was, and what a great family they were.
Clearly, a proposal was in the works.
He didn't propose that night, which confused me a little, given all of the congratulatory messages I'd already received. I think it was the next day? Or maybe the day after, while we were checking out the grounds of a nearby college, that he pulled a ring out of his pocket and ask me to marry him.
No suspense here: obviously I said yes.
I loved that ring from the moment he gave it to me. It was platinum and diamond, and it had been a part of his family for some time before it landed on my finger. It was so sparkly! And diamond-y! And look-at-me-I'm-engaged-y! I spent a lot of time in front of the mirror those first few days, waving it around casually and watching it sparkle while I tried out such classic lines as "my fiancé says...," or " yesterday my fiancé and I went to..." I felt so grown up and fiancé- ful! I kept looking at Bart and saying inane things like "you're my fiancé!" just because it seemed so spectacularly strange that we were going to get married.
(After we got married, I continued in that vein, and I would constantly ask him, "Don't you think it's strange that you're my husband?" After a couple of years of listening to this, he finally took it upon himself to note that, no, he didn't think it was strange, seeing as how we'd been married by now for more than two years. So I gave up saying it out loud, but I still sometimes look at him and think to myself how odd it is, that I married this man, and he married me, and now I am someone's wife. I'm a bit slow, semantically speaking.)
Way back in October of last year, I was sitting at my desk at work, happily typing away, when I looked down at my still-sparkly ring. I gave it a little poke, and the diamond moved. A lot. So I ran home and put it away safely. No way was I going to risk having that diamond pop off in the middle of a wadi somewhere in Jordan.
I mourned the loss of that ring, and I hated the fact that my finger was bare. But, I figured, I could bring it home next time I went to the states and get it fixed. That was the wise thing to do. But when would that happen? Not any time soon, certainly.
Then, a couple of months later, Bart's parents came to visit. And they offered to bring the ring home with them to get it repaired.
I accepted, of course, even though I had no idea when I would see the ring again. Some time next summer, surely. When they left Jordan, they had the ring safely tucked away in their carry-on.
Did you know that there is an insurance limit when you mail something through the U.S. Postal service? Yep, there is. Oh, and also: if you've ever seen what a box looks like after it makes its way from the U.S. to Jordan, via USPS and the military postal service, you would be leery of shipping your prized possession that way. Still: I was willing to risk it in order to be reunited with my ring.
As it turns out, there was another way.
See, my brother-in-law lives on the other side of the Jordan River. And he has a school friend who lives in Tel Aviv. And the school friend has some parents who were planning to visit Israel in January. And wouldn't you know they live not far from my in-laws?
So. The parents of the brother-in-law's friend were driving to JFK to catch a flight to Israel.
On the way, they met my mother-in-law somewhere on the NY State Thruway, where she handed the newly-repaired ring over to their care.
That's right, the ring traded hands on the side of the road at an anonymous thruway stop. ("It really wasn't that dramatic," my mother-in-law later noted. "They have rest stops and parking lots all along the way." But this is my blog, not hers, so I'll invite you to picture the scene my way, with my well-dressed and distinguished mother-in-law standing by the side of the freeway, holding a sign aloft like some crazed hitchhiker, gusts of wind from passing trucks threatening to toss her into a gully. In my version, the friend's parents' car slows just enough for her to toss the ring in the window. Very covert-like.)
The parents of the friend continued on, eventually making their way to Tel Aviv. They brought the ring with them when they came to Jerusalem, or their kids did. At that point, my brother and sister-in-law took possession of the ring, presumably keeping it well-hidden from their sparkle-loving daughter and their at-the-stage-where-you-eat-anything-you-can-pick-up son.
Then, one rainy day not long ago, the brother-in-law came to Amman on business. (And how cool is that, when you're living so far away from America, to have a relative stop in for a day or two on business?) I was at my desk at work, the very same one where I'd first noticed the wiggly stone, when in he strolled and handed over my ring, mere weeks from the time it had originally left Amman.
And that, my friends, is the story of how it took approximately twenty hundred people to get this ring back on my finger.
Can you believe it? I'm someone's wife again! See? It's been practically two decades, but it's still fun to say it out loud.
I guess I married a keeper. A keeper with good taste in jewelry. And my in-laws aren't so bad either. I only wish I had a photograph of my mother-in-law hanging out at that seedy truck stop, waiting for a stranger to pass by on the way to the airport.