It was the Saturday of the first weekend I had ever spent with Felipe. Our relationship was in that place and time when I knew my heart was approaching the point of no return.
He had already met my best friends and my family. He showed up to my Tuesday night guitar gig and even read an essay of mine I hadn't yet published. Felipe seemed intrigued by all of the quirks and qualities that existed in me.
When I arrived at his apartment on Friday evening, I knew I would not leave until Sunday except for the time I had planned to volunteer for the charity yard sale. Money raised would support a local children's organization.
Being an active member of my community is something that has always been important to me. I've learned the hard way that many people give kudos to the concept, but they lack appreciation for the follow-through when it comes to giving the gift of time. I'd had exes tell me things like, "You love your work more than me." Or "I support the community by paying taxes."
When I left Felipe's apartment Saturday morning to volunteer for the day, I was testing new ground. I told him that we might need some help after the yard sale to transport the items that don't sell.
"Would you mind if we used your truck?" He said to just call him, and he'd help us clean up.
The day was hot for May. We set up in the parking lot of the Child Wellness Center, cranking up the volume on fun music that piped through the sound system. Local folks shopped for treasures among the secondhand donations. The sale still had a couple hours to go when I saw Felipe pull in. Walking toward me he said, "I need a few things for my apartment, so I thought I'd look around."
He shopped while I took money and helped customers with their purchases, but it was clear he was there to help.
At the end of the day, we bagged and boxed leftover items to take to the local Goodwill. On one of the tables of trinkets and knickknacks I found a box with several jewelry pieces. A simple silver ring with a wave in the top caught my eye. It suited me, so I kept it.
Three years later Felipe asked me to be his wife. We looked at the ring options in local jewelry stores and online. Everything sparkled with gold and diamonds, rings that all seemed somehow out of place on my hand. I couldn't find one that said what I wanted it to say. I wanted a ring that reminded me of us, our simplicity and strength as a couple.
Then one day, while Felipe cleaned out the guest bathroom to replace the floor, he handed me a little basket he found under the sink. I looked inside and there it was, that simple silver ring from the charity yard sale. I had forgotten about it.
"This is it," I said. "This is my wedding ring." I took it to a jeweler and had two turquoise stones added to it. That charity yard sale was 15 years ago. The ring still reminds me of the man who has supported my endeavors since the very beginning and of the weekend when I realized that I loved him.
Bonnie Jean Feldkamp's column is distributed by Creators.