“Is that one carrot?” asked the barista as I hurriedly paid for my Starbucks on Sunday afternoon.
“What?” I blinked in confusion.
“Is that one carat?” she asked again, indicating the ring on my left hand.
“Oh. I don’t know, I’ve never asked,” I replied. I was a little taken aback by her question, but didn’t have time to give it much thought.
“Well, congratulations…however long you’ve been married,” she said, handing me my change.
“Almost two years…thanks.”
It wasn’t until I was in my car with my friend, driving back to our second session of yoga at Churchill Downs’ Family Adventure Day (which was a blast, by the way) that I had time to think this interaction over. I asked my friend if she thought it was a little forward of this stranger to ask me this. She thought so, and we did both agree that we have no concept of diamond size anyway, and that perhaps this woman is just dying for an engagement ring of her own.
The truth is, when I was younger, I never wanted an engagement ring, or a wedding dress. I have memories of sitting in the high school cafeteria, explaining to my friends what a waste of money I thought these things were. They always hoped that I would change my mind, or that they could talk me around. I don’t think it’s because they are particularly materialistic, but that they believed I deserved these things as much as any other woman.
And while I suppose I did change my mind, I will be honest here and say there were times throughout planning our wedding that I harbored guilt over such things. This guilt manifested itself with perspective from my recent trip to Honduras. Analyzing the price tag on my dress, flowers, catering, etc., I would think, “How many trips could I take to Honduras for this money? How many notebooks could I buy the children? How much food could I provide for a small village?”
But here are the things I realized; one, that it wasn’t always my money to spend. Much of our wedding budget came from our parents, who looked forward to this celebration even more than Nick and I did. The last thing I needed was my original guilt compounded with guilt from disappointing our family. Two, Nick and I could still afford to send me to Honduras. We had, and still have, enough money to sponsor two beautiful, incredible girls there.
Lastly, when it comes to my engagement ring, its beauty and value go beyond what the barista was looking at. Only Nick and I know the true value of this ring. I know the summers he spent working at a golf course to earn the money he used to buy it. I know the time he spent thinking about which cut of diamond he liked. I recognize his deep understanding of me to select the delicate, minimalist setting that suites me perfectly. I know the courage it took for him to get down on one knee and ask me to marry him, even though he knew I would say yes a million times over. I know the pride, joy and love I feel each day when I put on my rings and recommit to our marriage. My ring could be worth one carrot and I wouldn’t love it, or my husband, any less.