Lost Journal: Matrimony’s Ultimate Symbol Gets Trashed

Journal entry:  April 13, 2000 (age 30)

After almost a year-and-a-half of marriage, I am finally getting used to referring to Amanda as “my wife.”  The first time I said to a salesperson, “No, thanks, I’m just waiting for my…wife,” it sounded so alien it was if I was hearing my own voice piped in over the Oakdale Mall’s sound system.

Since then, I’ve grown more accustomed to the language of marriage, but I still haven’t gotten used to wearing a wedding ring.  It’s the “ring” part that throws me, not the “wedding” part.  I had never worn a ring before, and it just feels weird.  The ring itself is pretty cool, though, I think.  It’s a gold band with a “Celtic knot” design of interwoven strands.  After tonight, I appreciate it even more.

Amanda and I live in a high-rise apartment building in Rosslyn, Va.  At the end of our hall, there is a chute that takes trash to the basement of the building.  Collecting the trash is one of the chores I have taken on in the divvying-up that all couples do early in their marriage.  So, tonight, I dumped all the wastebaskets in our apartment into a Hefty bag, and headed down the hall.

The bag was a little overstuffed this week, so I had to really cram it into the chute and give it a good hard shove.  As the bag rumbled its way down five floors into the bowels of the building, I heard a troubling sound.  Ting, ting, ting, ting.  A small, metal object was bouncing off the sides of the chute as it chased the garbage downward.  “Oh no,” I thought, and looked down at my left hand.  The ring was gone.  It must have caught on the edge of something inside the trash bag.  My heart sank even further as I remembered that the chute ends its journey not in a dumpster, but in a massive trash compactor.

In a daze, I wandered back down the hall to our apartment.  Amanda looked up from her book in the living room.  “What’s wrong?,” she asked, “You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”  At first, all I could do was mutter, “Something terrible just happened.”  Amanda looked at me confusedly, and said, “But all you did was walk down the hall.  What could have happened in those 30 seconds?”

Minutes later, the two of us were in the basement.  A janitor let us into the trash room, and he temporarily shut off the compactor.  Nevertheless, we felt like Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, waiting for the walls to close in on us.  As I looked down into the container of filth, I immediately caught a glimpse of something shiny.  Miraculously, the ring had landed on something solid at the top of the pile.  I grabbed it, grabbed Amanda, and grabbed the first elevator back home.  A wedding band is the most important symbol of marriage, and I was glad that mine hadn’t been lost in this particular, symbol-rich manner.

Tim Mollen
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