I catch myself toying with the phantom of my wedding ring. The way I would fiddle with it with my thumb, pushing it up and down the ring finger. The first day I took it off, I couldn't stop worrying at the empty space, and when I got back to my room I put it back on in a panic, sat on the edge of the bed and got my breath back.
It's been over a year since my thumb went looking for the ring. Maybe it's because I wore my mother's ring last night, not on the ring finger, but on the middle finger, right beside it. Mom's ring is large and bold. It suited her long fingers and for a long time I thought mine too short to pull it off, but I like the way it looks now. It is a large glob of silver, pulled into random, organic points around a single pearl. I have to turn it around so the setting is in my palm in order to fit my hand into my pocket.
Yesterday I went to see Nine in Rockridge and I stepped off BART into a residential street. Roses are in bloom, and the smell made my heart cave in a little. I love where I live now, the white ladder I climb into my loft bed, the big window set in the brick wall, my neighbors out at the tender edge of almost making it, but yesterday I wondered if I needed something a little quieter, someplace where I could open the window and hear birds instead of bum fights. I missed, for a moment, my old flat in the Inner Sunset, neglected flower boxes on the lanai, crows bouncing on the power lines, my cats chattering lustfully at the window.
But this morning is bright and warm and people are out on my street. A black man is glorious in a lemon yellow suit, matching hat and shining yellow shoes.
He's talking with his friends, and along comes a giant of a white man, dressed like an extra from The Road Warrior, armored in pieces of tire and leather and steel, a vicious scar along one cheek emphasized with tattooed cartoon stitches.
"Nice suit, man," bellows the road warrior as he passes the yellow-suited patriarch.
And in only three blocks I'm in the park. They're just finishing the mowing, and I breathe in the smell of cut grass. An elderly man does his tai chi in front of the falling water at the Martin Luther King fountain. Two ancient Chinese women are running, their arms chugging in I'm-running motion, but their feet barely lift from the pavement. I could catch and pass them at a walk.
How many husbands, lovers, children have these women outlived? How many wars, how much self-delusion, how many lies and truths? They doggedly run, one behind the other, turning corners with military precision, every morning they meet to do their run.
Here is where I am now, and maybe I'll live long enough to treasure everything in this moment: my grief, my phantom ring, and all the soft green shoots springing up beneath my feet.