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.”

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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.

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