It seemed like just yesterday. The day I climbed into a Volkswagen Rabbit to leave home for the very first time, to a place I’d never been, to experience things I had never dreamed of. Now, I was an engaged woman, with a ring on my finger and a love in my heart that I had only heard about in storybooks. I was indeed the happiest girl in the world.
After all the Christmas presents had been opened and all of the food had been consumed it was time once again to leave my Mom. This time seemed to be harder for her. The look on her face was both happy and sad at the same time. She was happy for me. Happy that I found such a good man, happy to see me happy…yet sad at the same time. She was sad to see me leave again, and even more so that I might move away from home, from Alabama, for good.
Once we made it back to CBC for the spring semester, the countdown was on. I had six months to make the final decisions of our wedding. Even though the big stuff was out of the way, the dress, the wedding party, the cake, the caterer…there was still so much left to do. One item in particular that had not been taken care of, was the purchase of Devin’s ring. I had visions of what I wanted his ring to look like, but I had no idea what he wanted. I imagined a gold wedding band adorned with three diamonds, with the larger of the three showcased in the middle. Selling him on that look, however, I knew would be difficult. I grabbed some wedding magazines and cut out pictures of some that I thought would look nice on his beautiful dark skin. From the very beginning, I was drawn to his strong, handsome, tanned hands. After all, those were the hands that wiped snot from my nose, that opened my car door and warmed my hands on cold winter days. I thought it only fitting that a big diamond ring be parked on the left one. I knew it would be a hard sell, convincing the man who insisted we split a dollar whopper, to agree to a diamond wedding band, but I was willing to give it a shot!
“Devin”, I said with bated breath and magazine cut outs in hand, “I think it’s time we talk about your wedding band, I have some pictures here of some I thought you might like.” He casually began to look at my choices, saying nothing as I continued to state my case. “I was thinking, maybe a diamond or two, or three would be nice. I think the gold would look so good with your dark skin.” Still, there was not much feedback coming from Devin’s side. Feeling a little anxious at his non-response, I continued, “I was thinking we could go to a few jewelry stores this weekend and you could try some on…what do you think?” With all the calmness and ease of a sloth he said, “well, I don’t plan on wearing a wedding band so I don’t see the need for a fancy diamond one.” His reply just hung there in the air for a second, while my brain tried to wrap itself around such a ridiculous statement! “you’re not gonna what?” I said in utter disbelief. “eh, I probably won’t ever wear a ring so it doesn’t really matter to me what it looks like.” “what do you mean, you won’t ever wear it?” “well”, he replied, as if he had made up his mind years ago, “wearing rings can be dangerous. I once saw a man almost tare his finger clean off his hand while throwing a bale of hay off the back-end of a truck…it’s just dangerous to wear a ring while your working. “well, first of all,” I said with a slight attitude, “I don’t know how many bales of hay you’re gonna be chucking off the back-end of a truck while in the ministry, but if you feel the need to work with hay, you can leave your ring at home that day. Second of all, if we get married, you ARE wearing a ring!” He kind of chuckled and said, “well, I didn’t know it was that big of a deal, but if means that much to you, I’ll wear a ring, but not one with diamonds all over it.”
That was our first real compromise. He agreed to wear a ring, and I agreed he didn’t have to wear a diamond one. After doing a little research, and some shopping around, we decided to have one custom-made to his liking. The final cost? $200.00. The problem? I didn’t have a dime to my name. My mom, up until that point, had paid for everything. My dress, the photographer, the caterer, even the bridesmaids dresses were all paid for by her. I was determined though, she was not going to pay for Devin’s ring too. The solution? I had to find a job!
We only had about four weeks of school left before the semester was over. Knowing most businesses wouldn’t hire someone for just four weeks, I decided to see if I could find a job on campus. I went to the main office to fill out an application, hoping and praying that something, anything, would be available. All I needed was four weeks of employment and $200.00 in my pocket. When I asked the girl behind the desk if anything was available, I was a little taken aback when she said, “well, we do have one opening. We are in need of someone to clean the toilets over at Evans hall.” Those two words “toilet” and “clean” just sort of hung there in the air. Cleaning toilets was not exactly what I had in mind. I was thinking more like, answering phones, working in the library or serving food in the cafeteria….not cleaning nasty toilets! Then I remembered why I needed a job in the first place. I remembered Devin. I remembered his ring. I remembered $200.00. And before I knew it, I heard myself say, “I’ll take it!”
Everyday, for the next four weeks, I cleaned the bathrooms of Evans Hall. It wasn’t something I particularly enjoyed doing, as a matter of a fact I pretty much hated it. I had never even been in a men’s bathroom before, much less cleaned one. Now here I was, a young, naive, dingy blond cleaning urinals that the professors use. The highlight of my job was the day I walked in on one of our finest theologians as he stood in front of the urinal that I was supposed to be cleaning! I’m not sure which of the two of us was more shocked. I sucked all of the air out of the room when I gasped in horror, and my lilly white skin instantly turned red as the crimson flow! Even though I was grateful for the job, I was so ready for it to be over. I was tired of scraping poop and cleaning urinals. When it was all said and done, by the end of the four weeks, I had made exactly $200.00! Enough to purchase Devin’s ring.
During those last few weeks, Ginger, Kay and I dreamed of our upcoming weddings. We spent many nights, sitting cross-legged on our beds giggling late into the night. We compared wedding plans and whispered about our anticipated honeymoon escapades. All three of us were scheduled to be in each other wedding. Ginger and Doug were to be married first, next was Devin and I, then Kay and Neil. Devin’s roommate Darrell and his fiancé Crystal were scheduled to be married the week after our wedding which hindered Darrell from being in our wedding and Devin being in his.
When the semester was over, after our dorm rooms were empty and we said good-by to all of our friends, it was time once again to go home. As we drove off the campus I realized that the next time I came back, I would be a married woman. I would be Mrs. Tonya Rohr…just as Devin had written in the sand so many months before. To be continued…