Dropping Julia off at kindergarten this morning.
She and another girl are the first two to arrive, and we wait outside, all of us, for the assistant teacher to open the door to let everyone in.
Julia begins sifting through gravel and dirt. She's squatting down, no thought to being ladylike in her skirt. She's busy.
Other parents – mostly mothers, but a few fathers or grandparents, arrive, their kindergarteners and a few younger siblings in tow.
Julia has moved to a different patch of gravel.
"Julia," I say. "Don't play in the dirt."
"But Mom," she looks up at me, a concerned expression in her eyes and in the slight pout of her mouth. "I'm looking for your diamond!"
Another mother overhears and chuckles, as if this is some cute game we play.
Julia continues to dig. And sift.
"Is this it?" she asks. I look down. Between her tiny fingers is something amber. And sharp-edged.
"No," I say. "That's broken glass. Put that down so you don't cut yourself."
Julia drops the glass and goes back to her work.
"Julia," I say. "Don't worry about it. If I find it, I find it. If I don't, it's okay. Besides, your hands are all dirty and you've got school in a minute."
Julia empties the gray gravel and dirt from her hands and claps, ridding herself of most of the remaining dust.
The other mother asks, "Did you really lose a diamond?"
"Yes," I say. "The diamond from my engagement ring. Yesterday. It could have been here, or at the store, or at home. I've already looked everywhere."
A couple of the nearby moms make sounds of sympathy.
I have already lost my mind and recovered it about this. I am fine now.
I spent yesterday searching through grass and gravel there and in my driveway and looking in my car and in my house everywhere I could think of that I might have been yesterday morning. And everywhere I wasn't. I went to the grocery store and told someone at their "solutions" desk and left my name and number. Just in case. I almost cried there.
I dragged the kids home from school and swept the floors, hoping to see a flash of light reflected off one of the tiny little facets. I did see a flash of light, and something kind of clear and faceted, but it was a plastic bead from one of Julia's broken necklaces.
Bill arrived home while I was sitting on the floor in the bathroom, sweeping and peering at the dirt and dust and cat hair, hoping.
I'd also spent all my searching time creating the most horrible scenario for myself. That he'd be furious over the loss. That it would be my fault, all my fault, because I hadn't kept going to the jeweler every 6 months to have the ring cleaned and checked for loose prongs. All that money, gone.
He'd spent money on a boat before he decided to marry me and buy an engagement ring. He'd wanted the boat far longer, so it made sense. My ring was not big or flashy, but it was beautiful and looked like it belonged on my hand.
I've never worn a lot of jewelry, and I wear even less now – in fact most of the time now I just wear my engagement ring and wedding band. Mainly because I couldn't get them off. My hands swelled during pregnancies, and I worried that the rings would be too tight, but they weren't.
In winter, when it was colder, I used to be able to twirl the engagement ring around and around my finger, because I guess you shrink a bit, at least in finger girth, when it's cold.
I haven't been able to twirl that ring in several years now.
Every so often the facets of the little diamond would catch the light, and I'd tilt my hand this way and that and watch little tiny lights dance across the wall.
It was always there.
And then yesterday, suddenly there were four prongs, empty. One of them was bent a bit and the little bent part at the tip, that helps hold the diamond in place, was broken off.
I kept snagging prongs on things.
That's how I knew I'd lost the diamond earlier that day. I'd have noticed prongs snagging on things prior to that.
I called my sister and my mother, to tell them what had happened, and to share the imagined horrors that awaited me because of it. In retrospect, I'm an idiot. But I was an idiot in a panic, and that's what we do, we idiots. We lose our minds.
So Bill arrived home, and I'd worked myself into a lovely Laura Petrie "Oh, Rob!" sort of state, only not as funny and not as attractive in capris.
He called out a hello and I answered in a thin little voice from my place on the bathroom floor, and he looked worried because I sounded weird, and he was probably thinking something REALLY BAD had happened, and I felt sick to my stomach, and I told him.
"The diamond from my ring is lost." My voice was thin and tight. I held up my empty prongs so he could see.
"Did Julia go to gymnastics?" he asked.
Did – huh?
You know how you build something up and build it up in your head, until reality just packs it in and goes home, leaving you to your DRAMA? And then when the rest of the DRAMA you have created does not come to pass, and you have nowhere for YOUR next part in the DRAMA to go, and you feel like you've turned a corner and walked smack into a wall, but your nose isn't even bleeding, so now what?
I tried to keep the momentum going.
"I'm so sorry," I began to quaver, "It's all my fault."
And he, rightly, looked at me like I was speaking some strange language he didn't understand.
Which, I was.
"If that happened to me, I wouldn't blame myself," he said, trying to translate normal into something I could understand. "It fell out. It just happened."
And so naturally I burst into tears because I'd been keeping them locked up in a tower all afternoon and they just needed to get out.
And then I was fine. I felt tired. And ridiculous. And relieved. And ridiculous some more.
Later on, while Bill was making dinner, I went upstairs and slathered lotion on my finger and managed to get the ring of prongs off my fat finger. My finger looked weird. My flesh where the ring had been was kind of like carpeting after you've rearranged the living room: you know something USED to be there because it's all flattened.
I looked at the couple of other rings I have while Julia tried on necklaces and wanted to wear earrings but can't because her ears aren't pierced.
And then we had dinner. And that was about it. So anticlimactic, I know.
But anticlimactic can be a good thing.
And you know what? When I sat down to type a little while ago, this isn't even what I was going to write about.
I was going to write about after all the kids in Julia's class were summoned into the building, and all the rest of us headed off, either in car or on foot, to home or work or the store or whatever.
And I said goodbye and walked past a couple other moms who were talking, and got a little farther up the path, and then I thought I heard my name, so, not wanting to seem like a snob, I turned quickly, arm raised to wave, friendly idiot smile on my face.
Of course, no one had called to me.
I turned back around and kept going, maybe a little faster, while my entire life of being insecure and unsure of how to BE flashed before my eyes. Again.
I imagined it from "their" perspective – Jayne just suddenly pirhouettes around smiling and waving. At no one. What the hell is she doing? She's weird. Yeah, and her glasses are crooked. And she needs to shave her legs. And she's got a stain on her tee shirt. And she really shouldn't wear capris.
Because, as we all know all too well, that is how my mind operates. 24/7, baby.
And I hurried home.
Out of step with the rest of the world.
At least, that's what the voices in my head tell me.