I cradled the wedding band in the palm of my hand and watched some poorly dressed clown swing a bell as people dropped changed into a bright red kettle.
I'd made a decision about the ring. I'd come to it a while ago, but now we'd reached the point where something needed to be done, where I could no longer bear to keep it any longer.
For a while, before Christmas, I'd considered taking the ring to a pawn shop. Gold fetches a nice price these days. I could have traded it for cash, got a waffle iron or maybe bought a few Christmas presents, but hadn't been able to do that.
Once upon a time, I'd had a different ring, nearly as blameless as this one and done just that: sold it off for a few coppers to a guy in a cut off shirt in a dimly lit shop. The memory of watching a greasy, stringy-haired clerk toss that ring in a fat JFG coffee can along with several dozen others still haunts me.
It was a mass grave.
A marriage shouldn't be dispensed with so cheaply, I thought. Even the corpse of the thing deserves some manner of respect.
I always regretted selling that ring and this one, it deserved a better fate.
Truth be told, the ring never quite fit. This is not some existential statement, but a basic fact. I lost weight right after I purchased the thing and the ring wouldn't stay on my finger. I had it resized, gained some weight back and the ring wouldn't fit. Eventually, I lost the weight again, but took up lifting weights and the ring just never rested comfortably on my hand.
I talked about getting it resized a hundred times, but never did. There are a dozen reasons for that, none of them very good.
Still, I was ready to give this one up, but I didn't want it to go cheaply. I didn't want it to pay for dinner or even for the start of my new life. I wanted it to perhaps find its way to a new hand, a new marriage and a new start.
I could hope the same things for myself one day, I supposed. Why not that for me, too?
If I took it to a pawn shop, I figured they'd probably just sell it to a gold buyer. It would be melted down, turned into wiring or tooth filings, perhaps, but the Salvation Army is a church. They believe in marriage --acknowledged: their definition of marriage is a bit more conservative than mine, but I didn't think they'd cast the ring aside or boil it down to its brute material. They deal with charity and the poor. Maybe they'd find someone who wanted to get married, who didn't have a ring.
I hoped so. In my way, I was trying to give the ring a chance to move on, too.
So, I wished it well and slipped the ring into the kettle as I went in to the grocery store to buy Granny Smith apples, flour and sugar. The man standing at the door wished me a Merry Christmas. Almost correcting him, I said, "Happy New Year."