How To Sell Your Wedding Rings In Las Vegas

How To Sell Your Wedding Rings In Las Vegas

A year ago on December 20, I discovered my life as I knew it was a lie. I ended my marriage and started to pick up the pieces to begin assembling a new life. How does one mark a milestone like that? For me, there was only one way: take a friend to Las Vegas, hock my wedding rings, and gamble whatever I got.

Las Vegas is a strange and interesting city. Beyond the Strip with its technicolour displays of excess, the town has a way of revealing to you parts of yourself that would be otherwise glossed over at home. It’s raw in a way only something built in a desert of nothing can be. So after a year of living through my own strange adventure, it made sense to close this chapter in that place.

Step One: find a pawn shop

Every city has pawn shops. They put our stories under harsh fluorescent light and strip away the memories we layer on our tokens; these places remind us that things are just things. Now, even pawn shops in Vegas have become a simulation of themselves. But all it takes to find something real is a willingness to turn away from those shiny neon distractions.

I found a pawn shop just off Fremont Street, in the decay of old Vegas. This is a condensed version of what transpired.

“I’d like to sell my wedding rings.”

“Are you sure? The most we pay is on the value of the gold and stones.”

“Yep, I’m sure. They’re not worth very much.”

a pause while the woman contemplates what to say next

“Most people can get more if they sell them privately.”

“Nothing you say will offend me. Let’s just see what they’re worth.”

the woman takes the rings and motions for me to follow; she weighs them and inspects the teeny tiny diamonds before turning to me with some reluctance

“With the amount of gold and small size of the diamonds, the best we can do is maybe… $60?”

I glance over at my friend, who shrugs

“That’s ten bucks more than I’d hoped. I’ll take it.”

the woman looks at me like she can’t believe this is what I want, so I try to reassure her

“Oh, this isn’t a bad thing. A year ago today I ended my marriage. I’m okay now. And I’m gambling the money to leave behind the bad juju.”

the woman smiles, obviously relieved, and fills out a form we take to the cashier to collect my $60

“Good luck to you.”

“Thanks.” We walk out the door and grab a drink.

Step Two: find the casino

Las Vegas is all about vibe. Superstition is everywhere, down to the guy playing the slots and the feeling of tables. No one is immune to the vibe; it clings to you like the decades of cigarette smoke not even remotely masked by the air freshener pumped in through the ventilation.

As much as it is about vibe, the city is also about history as it continuously reinvents itself. Classic casinos like Binions, The El Cortez, and The Flamingo are part of the essence of today’s Las Vegas, holding its stories in an ever-changing landscape. There’s a grit to these places, something that can’t be covered over by new carpet or fresh paint.

Walking through the lobby of The Flamingo, I knew. But not yet. Tomorrow.

Step Three: place a bet

We gamble every day of our lives. Maybe it’s not a table game or slot machine, but life is a gamble. We hedge our bets on buying a house at the right time, selling an apartment in a hot market, taking one job over the other in pursuit of career advancement, crossing the street on a red light. We trust our gut and are guided by instinct in the hopes of making the right decision. Sometimes we even weigh the odds.

The house, we know, always wins. Las Vegas is successful because of and despite this. It’s built on hope. Strangely enough, this might be one of the last vestiges of hope. And here hope is naked in all its forms, from beautiful to ugly and everything between. But however it appears, it’s honest.

The Flamingo had an open table with a dealer named Brian who explained roulette. I told him the story behind my wager and that I wanted to bet it all in one go. He nodded. I placed my bet on 20 black, the ball spun and spun before eventually dropping into a slot, and the house won.

Brian smiled and collected my chips from the table. I thanked him for helping close the door to this chapter. Goodbye, bad juju.

Step Four: walk away

That’s all there is to it. I left the table and didn’t look back. Everything I need now is in front of me.

The first year will have been the most difficult and the road ahead is far from clear. I’m not a whole person yet, but I’m living this life in honesty. That’s better than whatever comfort I thought I had in the lie.

And there’s always hope. We just need to look for it.

~ Jeannette

thanks to Erin for capturing the sale of my rings and the moment I placed the bet, and to Sandra for reminding me that my truth and this reality is always better


ESSAY: love, loss, and a slow cooker

Today I bought a slow cooker. This might not seem like a noteworthy event without context, so I’ll rephrase: today I faced a situation I’ve been avoiding for months, and I bought a slow cooker.

In December 2017 I learned the coupled life I was living wasn’t what I thought it was nor had it been for several years. With that new awareness starkly in front of me, I ended my marriage. It was a gut-wrenching and impossibly difficult time. Six months later it still can be, but I no longer throw up every day.

The following four weeks were a of whirlwind activity. I shoved my emotions as far down as possible, because I had to proceed with the business of detangling almost twenty years of cohabitation. What was once a life became a list of assets and liabilities awaiting division.

I hired a handy friend to help with unfinished renovation projects. I painted almost every room. I decluttered, depersonalized, and staged a blank slate with potential for new families or an easy turnkey for empty nesters starting to downsize. With lipstick on the pig we listed and sold the house in under a week.

For 38 long days I shared a living space in a home that was no longer a home. Despite the house sale closing in early March I secured my own place for February, because I could feel every buried emotion begin to leak through dam I had built.

Sitting in a rented one-bedroom apartment, surrounded by boxes and without much furniture, I felt ashamed. Weeks of self-doubt came pouring out, the weight of what transpired draping over me like a wet woolen blanket, smothering, robbing the air of oxygen.

I felt like a cliché. How could s/he not have known? When you’re in it, you don’t.

When faced with irreconcilable pictures of my life – the truth I thought I was living versus the reality – it was impossible not to question myself. I’m a smart person, and as a writer I’m somewhat observant. How could I have been that stupid? Enter the shame. Crippling, spiraling.

My retreat was all-encompassing as I navigated the new waters of insecurity in a life where nothing was familiar but my cat (Tippy rocks). I grabbed hold of a few close friends who became life rafts. I drowned, often, each time sputtering to the surface only to be pulled back under. I was unable to shake what was weighing me down: uncertainty of self, of my decisions, and of who I was when not in relation to another.

In May I was sidelined by emergency surgery and spent 12 days in hospital. For a few of those days the situation was dire. I had a lot of time to think about who I am, without the recent scarring and weight caused by the actions of another. When I pulled through I felt…lighter. And more myself.

I am my best self after emerging from the darkest places, buoyed by those I love and who love me. I’m my parents’ daughter: resilient, trusting, caring. I deserve to have my heart held with the same, and through all of this I emerged with my values intact.

There is no shame for me to carry after the end of my marriage. That weight is not mine. 

Today I bought a new slow cooker, one that holds 6 quarts and has a timer. It’s Sunday, so there’s no real chance of running into one I have no appetite to see. But for the first time I had clarity of mind and strength of self to talk about what happened without feeling ashamed or any of the self-doubting emotions that buried me for so long.

When I saw a familiar face and was asked how I was doing, I spoke. Easily. Then I took the opportunity to set straight a few things. Like how I was the one who discovered a betrayal and had the strength to say “Do you have something to tell me?”. And I had the courage to hold to my values and make the difficult decisions. It was a relief to tell my story and bring light to the truth. Sharing this here is an example of that relief.

All of those messy emotions remain part of me as I work through them, but perspective is a wonderful thing that’s easily brought about through confronting one’s own mortality. So I shrug off (as best I can) that which isn’t mine to carry.

These last few months have taken more energy than usual and I’m not feeling particularly driven to create. I’ve committed to writing for the usual suspects (like my next article with Culinaire Magazine), but am not taking new assignments for a while. I’ll pop up on Longhand when inspired but largely remain focused on finding my place in my own story. The old and the new.

Plus, now I have a slow cooker large enough to make dinner for my friends to thank them for being most excellent life rafts.

~ Jeannette