July 28, 2015

just a ring.

Every once in a while, there's a coincidence so big and so wild that it feels almost, almost, like a miracle. Recently, a friend told me one of those no-way, can't-believe-it, the-universe-is-incredible kind of stories, and she asked me the last time I felt truly blown away by something.

It was during my senior year of college, when I went to Vegas with my mom and a bunch of her childhood friends from Tennessee. We were there for the Academy of Country Music Awards, and on the night of the show, we ended up standing in the pit in front of the stage. Between the cameras and the celebrities and the buzz of it all, it was a surreal sort of night to begin with — all noise and sequins and screaming fans. Also dancing. There was a whole lot of dancing.

At one point, while Miley Cyrus performed "Climb" (Why do I remember this? Hello, 2009), I went to twirl the ring on my right hand, the one I'd worn every day for four years. Where the stone should have been, the pink sapphire, I felt four prongs, an empty space between them. 

I panicked, heat suddenly rising to my cheeks. As the stage lights flashed and everyone around me swayed, their hands up in the air, I crouched to the ground, pressing my palm to the carpet to feel for that tiny pink stone. I'd opened the ring on my 18th birthday, just four months before I moved across the country for college. During those early days in San Diego, and whenever I felt particularly homesick, the ring had felt like a small, special connection to everything I'd left behind. 

"It's gone," I said to my mom as soon as the music stopped. "Look."

I held up my hand, and she went into instant fix-it mode. "We'll find it," she said. "Don't panic. As soon as the show's over, we'll search around and we'll find it."

The carpet, though — it was red. Of all things, we were looking for a tiny pink stone on a bright red carpet. When the show ended and the crowd had filed out and the janitors came inside to clean, we all kicked off our heels and crawled around the pit, searching. I didn't have much hope.

Why did I feel like crying? It was just a stone. It was just a ring. I was fine, I was fine.

One of the janitors walked over to find out what we were doing. He was a short man, older and tough-looking. His hair was long beneath his hat, mostly gray, and when he spoke, his voice was low and scratchy. I could barely hear him in the big auditorium. 

"What are you looking for?" he asked.

"A pink stone," I told him, holding up my cage of a ring. "It fell out."

He nodded right as the sound of vacuums started up nearby, and he watched my face as it fell, as I realized that one of those vacuums would most likely find the stone before I did.

"I'll help you," he said. "And I'll stop the vacuums. Are you staying at the hotel?"

I told him that I was. I told him that we were leaving in the morning, and that the ring had been a gift from my parents, and that I knew it sounded silly, but I really, really wanted to find it.

He stopped me mid-sentence. "Is that a Chicago accent?"

"Yeah," I said, briefly shaken out of the moment. "I'm from the suburbs."

"Me too," he said. "Glen Ellyn — do you know it?"

I laughed and stammered. "Yes, I... yeah, that's my hometown."

A lightness, recognition, fell across his face. A moment later, his smile faltered. "Look, I can only hold the vacuums for so long, and this place need to be cleaned up pretty quickly. I'm sorry, but you guys need to head out. I'll spend a few more minutes looking, but it sounds like it may be gone."

I nodded. He was right. But just in case, we gave him our room number, and he said he'd reach out if he got lucky, but that we shouldn't hold our breath. I glanced back at his nametag. 

"Thanks, Tony. I really appreciate it."

Back in our hotel room, we packed up our things, rehashing the show, the better parts of the night. My empty ring kept getting caught on my clothes, the pointy prongs snagging my shirts as I tried to fold them. Eventually, I took it off, zipping it into a small pocket inside my purse. It's not a big deal, I told myself. Let it go. You're being silly. 

Thirty minutes later, a knock at our door. A catch in my throat. 

Standing in the hallway, there was Tony, short and smiling and holding up one hand. The tiny pink stone sat in his palm, and the words wouldn't come. I couldn't speak.

"I found it," he said, laughing. "Can you believe it?"

And then we all cracked up, my mom and Tony and me, all of us a bit delirious from the strange, surreal night and our odd connection. I couldn't believe it. But also, I sort of could.

I thanked him a million times, asked how I could repay him, and he shook his head. "No, no," he said. "This is just one Glen Ellyn kid helping out another. Glad it worked out."

After he left, my mom and I sat at the edge of the bed, stunned, and I kept turning the stone over in my palm. The sapphire was so small, and that room was so big, and the carpet was red, and of all places, he was from my tiny Chicago hometown. What were the odds? Again and again that night, and again and again that week, I shook my head, asking, Can you believe it?

I know, I know, this post and my writing — it's all sort of dramatic. Obnoxiously so. But that's how it felt that night, and that's how it still feels whenever I glance at my right hand. When I was little, I had a watch that I swore held some kind of superpower, and sometimes I can still tap into that, as if I'm still six years old, as if my ring carries even the slightest bit of magic.

It was just the wildest coincidence, you know? Almost a miracle. 


Anna said... [Reply to comment]

LOVE this story! And those little synchronicities, they're like a hug from the universe :)

Laura Marie Meyers said... [Reply to comment]

@Anna Thank you! :)

Katie -unwritten, untitled- said... [Reply to comment]

I love this story! It's wildly dramatic and that's perfectly fine.

And I do believe that's a tiny miracle (I don't believe that miracles have to be impossible things happening. Just improbable. And that those tiny miracles are the ones we most often miss but also most often experience).

Alli Lizer said... [Reply to comment]

You are a beautiful writer. I can feel your emotions as you write about them. It's amazing how in dire need sometimes things will work out.