Goodbye Ring, Hello Future

Goodbye Ring, Hello Future
Katey Johnson

By Katey Johnson | Sep 23rd, 2019

In June, I boarded a flight to Seattle for an annual writer’s retreat. I was ecstatic. It would be my first time in the Pacific Northwest and I didn’t know it yet, but I was about to fall deeply in love.

I’ve always been an east coast girl. I grew up in northern NY, thirty miles from the border of Ontario, Canada. I met my ex-husband in college, in a northern NY town on the border of Quebec. When I graduated, we moved to Long Island, where my ex was from, and I started working in publishing in Manhattan. Not long after that, we got married and started our family. That was that.

We traveled a lot together, mostly to the Caribbean but never anywhere too exciting within the continental US which is strange because even after living on Long Island for almost 20 years, I don’t identify as a Long Islander. It’s just not me.

I mean, Long Island has its perks. I love being so close to the ocean and I’m having my own love affair with Montauk. But growing up in a snowy climate, a few years ago I started to long for colder weather and a different view – land lush with tall trees and mountain vistas – as opposed to the flat landscape of Long Island. So when I flew into Seattle on that early summer night and saw massive evergreens shooting up into a peachy pink sunset, lining every one of my views, my heart swelled, suddenly filled with something I didn’t realize I’d been missing and now, completely and totally in love.

Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach. Courtesy of Katey Johnson.

It’s been a tough 2 years. In October 2017, my ex-husband announced that he hadn’t been happy for a long time. I understood, and if I was being honest with myself, I knew we needed a change, but was sure we’d work it out in therapy. I mean, we had kids. We were a family.

But a month later, after 3 half-hearted attempts at marriage counseling, he moved out. He had been done long before he told me and there had never been any shot at fixing things. I took my off my engagement ring and my wedding band off and buried them, along with my heart, in a glass box on my dresser. 

For the following year and a half, although I’d begun journaling my divorce experience on social media, oftentimes writing uplifting messages to my followers, privately, I felt like I didn’t have any say in the matter. He left. He didn’t want me. Didn’t love me. That, to me, meant I was unlovable. Period. I was meant to be broken.

Blue Lake
Blue Lake. Courtesy of Katey Johnson.

Then something that everyone told me would happen started to happen. I started to grow back together, tiny bits at a time. Some things fell apart, but other things started to fall into place and into new, enchanting places. And as my plane touched down on that Washington runway, I knew I wouldn’t have been on it if I was still married.

My trip was fantastic but short. I didn’t see nearly what I knew was out there waiting for me and that I needed to get back out to the PNW as soon as possible. Since it was summer and my kids would be going on trips with their dad for two full weeks coming up, I had some free time to play with but not a ton of cash. I remembered the engagement ring on my dresser. I didn’t have the emotional attachment to it that some women had. And I didn’t want to hand a ring with so-called “bad juju” on it down to one of my kids. I knew if I sold the ring, it could help pay for a return trip out west. Then I found Worthy.

Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach. Courtesy of Katey Johnson.

I was skeptical about shipping my ring off to be graded and I had one million questions. When I say that I’ve never worked with a more transparent company, I mean it. I knew where my ring was every step of the way and they made sure I understood the process and all of my options going in and coming out, whether I decided to sell or get my ring back after it was graded.

I decided to sell. The entire process was less than 2 weeks from the time I sent my ring to the time the money was in my account. And that money was immediately used to buy a plane ticket and purchase a rental car for a weeklong trip across Oregon and Washington state.

San Juan Islands
San Juan Islands. Courtesy of Katey Johnson.

For women who’ve gone through divorce, the decision to keep or sell the rings can only be made by themselves. For some women, keeping the ring in the family is right. For some women, selling their ring and investing the money is right. For some women, throwing the ring off a pier into the ocean is right. For me, this trip was right.

On August 12th, I got back onto a plane bound for the PNW. Alone. I flew into Portland, OR and spent 6 nights, exhausted and exhilarated, bouncing from a live concert in the city, to a drive along the coast of Oregon to Cannon Beach, to the scenic mountains of the North Cascades in Washington, to the shores of glacial lakes, to the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea and back again to Seattle where I first fell in love. 

I boarded my flight back home on a Sunday morning, filled with gratitude and self-pride. I had given myself an immeasurable gift. I had taken my own hand and lead myself out of the past and accepted all of my bright new tomorrows.

There’s no price on acceptance. I gained far more in those six days of self-discovery, celebrating my singleness, than what I let go of the day I sold my ring. The girl who said YES that ring was gone. She said GOODBYE to it and the life it tethered her to. And the girl who stepped off the plane back in New York after that trip had just said YES to her new life and HELLO to her future.

Katey Johnson

Katey Johnson

Katey Johnson is a writer and freelance content creator. She’s a mom to 2 human children and 4 fur children. She invites you to come vacuum her home.


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