June 18, 2007
cut, color, clarity, carat
My snobbery reached new heights this weekend when, during a matinee showing of Spiderman 3, which was surprisingly well attended by other missed-the-boaters, I cringed when I saw the original gold engagement ring Peter contemplated purchasing for MJ. Seriously? I thought while scarfing down badly reheated pretzel bites. That's the best Spidey can do for her? My shallowness shocked even me.

Know that I am not a woman who dates for a face or money or status or clothes or promises. But I imagine, like any 33-year-old woman with a history of relationships, I know what I like, and more important, possibly, what I need. Much like the four Cs of diamond buying, for me there is an admittedly grossly imperfect makeup (equation?) to the person or persons with whom one really connects in a lifetime. I'm not speaking of the boys with whom we've all bidden our time, the ones we liked but used as placeholders so we'd have someone to take us to the movies or serve as party dates or sex release partners for a year's time. I'm talking connection, people.

In no particular order, we have:

Attraction and Passion.

The kind that for most weeks of the year leaves you with a little stirring feeling in your stomach. It makes you late to some parties and wanting to leave others well before the stroke of midnight. It prompts you to hug him from behind when he's looking in the bathroom mirror, interrupt his religious Post reading with a touch on the neck, makes you want to lick a snowflake/that bead of sea water/stray chocolate sauce right off of his cheek, no matter the PDA factor. It is at times so strong and enviable that you often don't share the details with friends; it is a sacred secret much better kept close to the vest. It can be intimate, often dirty, but the two of you are undeniably tethered to one another by an unrelentless tug, even when 3,000 miles away from him. You want to be close. The thought of either of you sharing this with another drops you to your knees. These are feelings that last.

The core.

Respect. Honesty. Intellect. Commitment. Communication. Kindness. Conflict. Consistency. Time. The whos and the whats of your life and soul with which you, as an individual, long before this someone new surfaced, knew you could not and would not live without. It's the instinct you have when you see a friend's beau at a bar stroking another woman in the small of her back. It's what you do when you see a sibling on the verge of making a dangerous decision. These aren't the preferences people have for sports or video games or blogging; this is the gut reaction you get when you read an inappropriate email (see june 6) or first hear an abusive word used for a coworker. A defensive gesture in front of friends. It's the calls or texts that don't come when promised. More than anything else, these are the factors that don't budge or waver beyond natural flux. At least I hope they don't.

Motivation for life.

Even before you came along, he was on most days a man of action. Does he look for opportunities to expand his world, whether through tackling a new book or taking the scenic route when the destination can wait? He isn't at all times in his comfort zone. It's whether one chooses life to be 9 to 5 or a series of hours linked by a new dish at the regular restaurant, a well-timed office prank involving the remainder of the packing tape in the supply closet, or an impromptu compliment. It's taking up SCUBA for no reason other than the someday and closing the bar on a random Tuesday night. When you don't sit in welcome silence, you engage in rich conversation. There just seems like there isn't enough time between you to cover it all. Because life is life, it isn't every day, every month, or sometimes every year, but the baseline rests at zest.

Plans for the future.

First and foremost, there are some. Will life be spent in New Jersey or Namibia? Will we donate that extra money to the cat shelter or indulge in season tickets, or maybe a little bit of both? Honeymoon in Napa or Crete? Spend the next holiday with your family or his or in front of our TV with Thai takeout? Dogs or llamas? And will he do these things with you or . . . well, he really considers no other long-term option, does he? It's about knowing that no matter the pothole or South of the Border diversion, you are on the trip together. Come work transfer or family illness or natural disaster that renders your new wine cellar and your checkbook useless, in time you pick up and you forge ahead. In the same direction. It's knowing without question that your concessions are worth every single minute of their consideration.

For me, all of this is looking down at your finger and knowing, even on the most trying days when a reminder might be needed for both of you, that you love that ring and the man behind it. And that while you've bent and at times met well past halfway, you never, ever settled.