One ring to bind them
In 1998, Hawina came to me and said “i need to let go of this idea of having a child. i am not finding the women here that i would need to co-parent with and it is clear that you dont want to be a full time father.” I thought about this hard. All that she was saying was true. And yet if i was going to have a child with anyone it would be her. We decided we would explore the possibility of being parents together. We thought we would start by making lists of all the things we wanted to change in ourselves to be good parents. This was exactly the wrong approach.
These lists were long and daunting and basically killed the conversation about being parents. A year goes past.
My comrade and co-conspirator Modok comes thru to visit and we are on the downtown mall in Cville and going past this Nepali vendor who has a bunch of central Asian jewelry. I pull out a prayer ring and try it on. It is a simple silver an copper ring with Om mani padme hum which has no simple translation but literally means the “Behold, the jewel in the lotus flower”. Yet somehow holds the essence of Tibetan Buddhism. Color me skeptical.
But the band was pretty and i held it up and smiled and Modok quickly quipped.
“You should get it.” he said flashing his winning smile
“i dont really do jewelry” i confessed
“get it for your kid, and you would wear it and keep it safe for them on your hand until they grew up and decided to leave home, then you would give it to them as a going away present.”
“Wow. i replied, “Well that is a bit of a little elaborate plan. But we are not even sure we are going to have a kid.” i countered
“If you decide not to have a kid” said my ever so quick comrade “then you could make a wooden raft, do a little ritual together, put the ring on the raft and send it down the river as a symbolic representation of letting go of the idea of having a child.”
“Well that sounds clever, but i dont know.” i continued to stall
“i will buy it for you” trumped Modok
And soon $10 changed hands and the ring was mine.
Just after Y2K, Hawina and i had a date. I asked her what she wanted to do for our date and she said that she wanted to go into Cville and go to the Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church and walk the labyrinth which is only open on the first Sunday of the month (tho it had been a regular feature just before Y2K).
A classical labyrinth is like a maze, except there are no forks in it. A single path takes you to a central area and then you go out a separate serpentine path to exit. Labyrinths are oracular devices, meaning you ask them questions and they give you answers. I am the child of rationalists, i dont think much about oracles and divination devices. And i think quite a lot about Hawina and am happy to take her where ever it is that she might want to go. So off to the labyrinth it is.
We walk into the church and there is a large hall with the labyrinth pattern printed precisely on a large mat which is on the floor. Several people are inside walking quietly. Not believing that oracles work is certainly not going to keep my from trying to use one, if that is what is happening around me.
Hawina has already thought about this and she goes in first. I notice there is a little book in which people are writing their experiences. i wonder if in 20 minutes i am going to be writing “sorry, nothing happened while i walked thru the labyrinth. The magic is busted”
And it does not take long to come up with the question i am most curious about. “Should i become a parent?” is what i want to know and what i am confident these serpentine rows will not help me decode. I start walking, occasionally passing people who are slower than me. Before i get to the center i pass Hawina.
About 3/4 of the way thru the labyrinth i get this huge booming voice in my head which says “Yes!”. That is it, no explanation, no plausible source, no one else in the room seems to have heard what i heard. I complete the maze, and start writing in the book at the end of peoples experiences. Other people complete the trek, they write in the book, some pages pass. Ultimately, Hawina finishes her walk. She also writes in the book. She asks if she can see what i wrote, i encourage her to read it. And she starts laughing when she does.
i ask what is so funny, she hands me the book and instructs me to read her entry. I flick a few pages and there it is. She has had basically the identical experience that i have had, same question – same answer. We tore up the discouraging lists and start trying to have a baby shortly there after. And shortly after this we would add Sky as a co-dad.
In later years i would buy rings with the same inscription on it for Sky and Hawina and Anissa and Joy. With the intention that one day Willow will get them all.