Cement on a RingDuring my cross-country move, I lost a stone in a ring I wear all the time. Who knew after years of waiting tables, cleaning, and polishing glassware that it would take hauling furniture to knock a stone loose?

I took the ring to the jeweler here in Pennsylvania, and he spent some time tracking down another green stone for me. When I picked it up recently, I immediately noticed how clean it was. In fact, I think the first thing I said was, “Wow, you got the cement to come off!”

The cement was really some plaster from when I rehabilitated my office space in a 130-year-old building two years ago. There was a lot of plasterwork to be done in there, which I did, slowly, over the course of a few months. The office turned out magnificently, matching the vision I’d had in my mind for quite some time. And in the process, I carried a bit of plaster in my ring, everywhere I went. No matter what I did to clean it, the plaster had hardened around some of the facets of the ring to the point that it seemed permanent. Yes, this is a lot of thought about plaster and a ring, but when writing, it’s random details like this that let readers know the hearts of characters.

When I discovered the mess I’d made of the ring and that cleaning didn’t work, I was disappointed. In almost all of the work I’d done, I’d worn gloves—two sets, usually—and eye protection and even a respirator at times. (The office was a bit of a disaster zone for a while there.) But I must have allowed myself to get sloppy at some point–in fact, I’m sure of it–and that’s when the plaster caked my ring.

But from that initial disappointment, I grew to like the plaster, truth be told. It was a reminder, like a scar, of the work I’d done and the life I’d lived. I wore it proudly.

And now that it’s clean again? Well, it says to me, “Clean slate.” And it also says, “Time to get your hands dirty again.”

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. To learn more about her current writing projects, or for ways to donate toward their completion, see JodyBrown.com/writing.