I lost my wedding ring at the airport.
Somehow in all the chaos of narrowing my clothing options down to one carry-on and one checked bag, dealing with my nine-pound canine traveling companion, getting checked in, waiting in a painfully long line, and actually making it up to the Delta Air Lines counter, it had fallen off.
I’m not one to believe in signs, but this sure felt like a bad omen.
Was I making the right decision? Did I just blow up my steady life for some awful unknown? Noticing my missing ring made it feel like I had to make one of the biggest decisions of my marriage all over again: Should I stay in Washington, D.C., with my ring or go join the man who gave it to me in Germany?
It’s a lot of pressure to put on a piece of jewelry.
My husband, Cameron, had been working on and off in Germany since May in a job that made him happier than I had seen him in a while. I had been able to go visit him once over the summer. We explored parts of Germany, France, and Luxembourg on an amazing trip. But when we got the news that his contract would be extended significantly, we knew that continuing our long-distance marriage would be difficult.
But the decision wasn’t exactly clear-cut. Some couples, perhaps, have worked out in advance whose career to prioritize. We hadn’t. If we kept going, I wouldn’t be able to see my husband again until Christmas. And if I joined him in Germany, I would have to give up the career I had been building.
Seeds of Self-Doubt
I’ve always been very defined by my job. It’s one of the first descriptors I use when I tell people about myself. Cameron has told me that one of the things he loves most about me is my passion for my work. If I gave it up, I felt like I wouldn’t know who I am, or worse, that I would have to figure it out all over again.
It also felt like I would be admitting that those endless strings of articles about women not being able to “have it all” were right. Cameron had his fears, too. He worried that he would bring me over to Germany, and I would hate it and resent him for making me choose.
Despite the initial fears, Cameron and I made the call to move to Germany. It just wasn’t going to work for us to be apart for that long. So even though I had worked my way up to become the editor and publisher of a news site in D.C., I turned in my two weeks notice and got ready to move to another country.
I was prepared to deal with some of my own insecurities about the decision, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the number of people who felt they had a right to comment on our relationship choice.
Though some of my friends were supportive, many other people felt like I had taken an “anti-woman” stance. Apparently prioritizing your family over your career is seen by many as a step backward for women. I was told that making this choice meant that I had sealed my career fate. It would be impossible for me to get a job in my field once I returned stateside.
The comments began to sow seeds of doubt. Are they right? Have I ruined my career? I am now completely financially dependent on my husband. What if something happens? Can I be happy with the sole job title of “Cameron’s wife”? In the time between my job ending and my flight out, those seeds had taken root and begun to sprout.
By the time I got to the airport on the morning of my departure, those fears had fully taken hold. It seemed like the ticket counter was sending me signal after signal to turn around, beg for my job back, and do the living-separately-while-married thing for a while.
“Ma’am, your bag is thirty-five pounds overweight. It can’t go on this flight.”
“You’ve been rerouted through a different airport.”
“It doesn’t show that your dog is listed as traveling with you.”
And, to top it all off, my wedding ring was gone.
By the time I actually got my ticket squared away and was headed to my gate, I was hysterical. So I did the only thing I knew to do. I called my mom.
She prayed with me and then told me exactly what I needed to hear: “Cameron loves you. Everything will work out when you are together. Now get on the plane.” And so I did.
The Best Choice Is the One You Make
Once in the air, the physical battle was over, but my mental war raged on. Ten hours of flight time is not the best thing for anxiety. I’m sure my seatmates thought I was insane as I wrestled with my thoughts across the Atlantic.
This is happening. It’s too late now. Was I wrong? Was my mom wrong? What if Cameron isn’t even happy to see me because I lost my ring—a not-so-small investment on his part? Have I gone completely crazy?
As soon as I got off the plane and made it through customs, I saw Cameron for the first time in weeks. He was standing there in a costume that he knew would make me laugh and holding a giant bouquet of flowers. All of my self-doubt melted away. This was exactly where I was supposed to be.
It has been just over a month since I landed in Germany, and I can honestly say that aside from actually deciding to get married, it was the best decision we have made as a couple. Without our home country support system, we’ve learned to lean on each other in new ways and even discovered some new skills. Being able to eat dinner together every night is a joy and something that we’d never had the chance for before this move.
But if ever those seeds of doubt should start to creep back in, I’ll just remember the image of Cameron in a goofy mask waiting for me at the airport, intuitively knowing when I needed something extra to make me smile. Just like the sunflower bouquets he never fails to greet me with after a long trip away, he is always there to support me and to be my constant partner. That means so much more than any career.
As for the ring?
It had actually gotten stuck to my sweater as I shoved it in my carry-on before heading to the ticket counter. Turns out that it had never truly left my side.
I guess it chose Germany, too.
Photo Credit: Regina Leah Photography