The Perfect Pearl Earrings

When my Ex-with-a-capital-E moved out after sixteen years, I packed all the jewelry he’d ever given me into his moving van. We’d been together since I was 19 so that left me with a few silver earrings, a Snoopy pendant, and some beaded necklaces. As he drove away with my birthday and Christmas and just-because-I-love-you keepsakes, I decided that I would buy my own jewelry from that point on. I wasn’t going to wait for a man to adorn me with trinkets. Instead, to rationalize the expense, I was going to wait for a man to disappoint me so I could adorn myself. I had no idea how quickly my jewelry box would fill up!

My first purchase was a few months after The-End-Of-Sixteen-Years. It was a big one. It had to be. Sixteen years culminates in a big disappointment. So, I splurged on a white gold necklace with a dangling pearl – in Paris. On My-First-Christmas-Without-Him, I bought a pair of white gold and diamond earrings. I threw in a silver brooch just to be sure. You only live once. Besides, I knew I was too old to count on another sixteen year relationship ending in disaster so I figured I was entitled.

My distress on My-First-Birthday-Without-Him turned into a cute gold and silver watch. In the months that followed, I allowed a lot of moments of disappointment to slip by without observing protocol because I thought they would continue long enough for me to find a fantastic ring. An unexpected epiphany propelled me forward along the grief time line. Before I knew it, I had reached the I-Wouldn’t-Take-Him-Back-If-He-Came-Crawling-On-His-Hands-And-Knees-With-A-Million-Dollars-And-A-Single-Long-Stemmed-Rose-With-The-Thorns-Still-Attached-In-His-Teeth stage. The sudden feeling of forgiveness caught me off guard but I recovered admirably. I quickly bundled any and all remaining disappointment into my fist. I traded it for a gold and ruby bracelet.

Oh, there were trickles of frustration here and there because I saw him at work every day but since it wasn’t outright disappointment, I couldn’t justify any purchases. I controlled those spells with Belgian chocolate. On My-Second-Christmas-Without-Him, he reduced my willpower to rubble by giving me a present. I was so angry at myself for crying that I shunned the cases of expensive jewelry and bought a pewter heart the size of my thumbnail. I carried it in my pocket for a long time. It was a symbolic attempt to keep my heart out of harm’s way.

My-First-Date after my Ex-with-a-capital-E made me feel very special. He awakened some things that had been dormant, some nice things. And he made me smile. I gave him my pocket heart because I didn’t need it anymore. I was ready to take a chance at being vulnerable, and being disappointed. I didn’t have to wait long. Four weeks later when he hadn’t called for a second date, I bought a really great sapphire ring. Not long after, Mr-No-Call surprised me with an invitation. I kept the ring. I’m not stupid. I’d been disappointed for only a short time but it was long enough to size a ring so I deserved to keep it. Mr-No-Call impersonated Prince Charming long enough for me to be disappointed again when my phone stopped ringing. Since it wasn’t entirely unexpected, I was able to exercise a little self-control. The charming little necklace I bought is silver. As an inside joke, I chose one with a heart much like the pocket heart I’d given him but I display this one where everyone can see it.

I’ve been asked for my phone number twice in the past month but they haven’t called. Together, those disappointments were just enough for a small gold and silver ring twisted into the symbol for infinity. Infinity is a long time - time for a lot of disappointments and quite a bit of precious metals. That can’t be a bad thing.

I figure the day will come when a man will ask me out and I will survey my fingers and wrists to see if I need any more disappointments, er, jewelry. Until that day comes, I’m keeping my eyes open for the perfect guy, and the perfect pearl earrings.

Jill Wragg is a retired police officer in Massachusetts.
She can be reached at


1 comment:

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