Thursday, January 18, 2007

Countdown to the Ring - Last Day

In theory, my Ring should be here any minute.

It is being shipped via UPS, ironically, the same people that lost my priceless original Ring in the first place) overnight from the company to my house, and is in a truck somewhere in Tucson.

I hope it fits.

Just the thought that it's in Tucson has got me all giddy. If I didn't live a half hour away I'd drive home to get it as soon as it showed up.

When we got our Rings in 1993 there was a tradition we upheld called "branding." There's no stone in the face of the Ring, just a molding of the Palmetto Tree and the numbers of your class, with the seals of the school on either side. The seniors would come crashing into the barracks to grab their favortie juniors (and sometimes sophomores, and if you had gotten drunk by that time freshmen) and tackle them to the ground. Said junior would then be the fine recipient of a "brand," in which the senior would press his newly-minted Ring into the forehead of the junior, hard enough to leave a near-perfect imprint of the Ring's face on his skin. Fiesty juniors would fight, which would result in the imprint coming in the form of a punch, rather than a press, and could sometimes be pretty ugly as the punch would smear across the kid's forehead. Smart juniors would simply acquiesce and submit to the tradition.

A problem that sometimes arose from this is that on the night we got our Rings, there were a lot of festivities, namely the Junior Sword Drill performance and the Ring Hop. Several times a year, we had formal dances and guys (their dates, anyway) generally didn't like to have their pictures marred by a big divot in their noggin. During our year, the JSD was banned, so that part was taken away. But we did have a Ring Hop, and the guys I chased down submitted easily in exchange for me going easy on them.

I think I'll brand my kids tonight (lightly, of course) since although a package from U People Suck isn't quite the same as a tear-filled ceremony in Summerall Chapel, it still is a very big deal to me.

My first Ring had the inscription "Ad Astra Per Aspera," a variation of the NASA motto, which means "to the stars through hardship." My best friend at the time, Dennis Tantalo, and I wanted something that we could put inside both of our Rings, and that's what we came up with. Afterwards, there were a number of phrases that I wished I had put in there instead. I also had my name, and "For Jenny," as a dedication to my sister.

This time around, I thought for a while as to what to put inside my new Ring. I kept my name and dedication to Jenny, but for a quote I was kind of at a loss. My life is so different now than it was the first time I slipped the Band of Gold onto my hand. It got me thinking of not only how different I am now, but also how different my life is compared to what I had envisioned it to be back then. Initially, it was all negative--I was supposed to be a fighter guy dropping bombs on the bad guys and breaking hearts all over the globe. Instead, I'm an overweight father of three, riding a desk. The more I thought of it, the more I agreed that I wouldn't want it any other way. Instead of focusing on what I had wished would happen and didn't, I looked back on all the accomplishments I've had since that day in October of 1993. Of all the dreams taht I didn't know I had that have since come true--most notably my three kids, the most incedible dream I could have ever had. After thinking of that for a while, and of my Grandfather who was there then but has passed on now, I came to the conclusion that he would be proud of me today for all that I've accomplished, and what he would want me to think of every time I looked at my new Ring.

"Dreams Fulfilled."

1 comment:

  1. Chris hope you manage to find this.
    It's me Dennis
    Somehow managed to see your blog and seems all is well
    Give me a shout 850-258-1554