Curt and I got engaged a month ago, on November 15, 2011. We chose the sapphire because it was the best fit: literally, yes, as it didn’t have to be resized. But I liked the way the stone’s color stood out with my skin tone. How it looks like a little bridge on my finger, the struts securing the base, supporting the stone. We learned that the setting was likely made in Italy, the site of our first anniversary together. Curt liked that it didn’t look like other engagement rings, and while I wasn’t looking particularly for something that was different, this was the one I was most drawn to. When I said, “I don’t know what my style is,” Curt replied, “If you like it, then it’s your style.”
My Masters thesis, Unveiling Aphrodite, was on the mythology of romantic love. I deconstructed myths, symbols, and supposed high points in a romantic relationship, comparing them with the embodied experience of it all. Some people thought that because I wrote about love, I was necessarily a “romantic.” In a literature class at Pace University, at the hands of Dr. Walter Levy, I learned the difference between romance and romantic, at least as far as Western humanities is concerned. My first paper was on paintings and sculptures in the Metropolitan Museum of Art based on myths from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. I don’t have the paper at the moment, or else I’d quote my weak attempt at analyzing these pieces, from Titian’s Venus and Adonis to Gérôme’s Pygmalion, as evidence that love, particularly love in mythology, endures. I got a C on that paper, rightly so, though I was devastated at the time. Through the rest of the semester, I tried to prove myself as a writer and scholar, learning how to focus my papers on specific themes and elements in films and short stories. When we were assigned another museum project, this time at the Brooklyn Museum, I was better prepared. There was little narrative to grasp onto in the massive Hudson River landscapes; instead, I described the expressive, sweeping brush strokes, the long, wide vistas, as characteristics of romanticism. These paintings are full of feeling; they welcome your eye into the sunlit valleys, the blue white rush of the rivers. Without relying on a predetermined story, they allowed me to experience a world I’d never seen.
So in this sense, yes – I’m a romantic. Through my study at Goddard, I recognized the moments that felt important, where I feel the most love: when Curt rests his head on my chest, my arm crooked around his head, our breathing rhythms sometimes falling in time together. We’ve talked about the word “engaged.” How to stay engaged with each other. To notice each other. To breathe together and remember we’re not adversaries. To be full of feeling doesn’t mean to explode unnecessarily; you can’t take words back. The sapphire ring I wear on my left hand is a reminder, Curt says, something to look at to remember that I’m loved. It’s a vow to look toward the future together, to write our own story together.