One element of Western weddings that I have only recently discovered are speeches. At Lori and Shawn's wedding, they were all heartfelt, well-written and well-delivered. I found the speeches from the fathers to be particularly poignant. I suppose I had never really thought about what it would be like for a father to see his daughter or son get married. My own parents tend to be pretty private people and I don't think they enjoy the spotlight. I imagine my father's speech would go something along the lines of, "Congratulations! All the best! Don't do anything stupid." Cliff, my best friend, tells me that he already has had his Best Man speech written for quite a while. I'm can't even begin to imagine what he might say, and I suspect he may chime in on that subject in the comments below.
On Saturday, the spotlight was on Lori and Shawn and they certainly deserved every moment of it. I first met Lori a few years ago, simply because I was something of a fixture around the department office. Over the years, I got to know her through our frequent conversations. She was always there to listen to the drama that would find its way into my life and there were countless moments when she saved my ass during those days when everything seemed like everything was breaking down. In the time I've known her, she's transformed the department office into a model of efficiency and organization. I remember how excited she was when she first met Shawn and before long, Jackson and I were helping them move into their new house. Before all this, I never really appreciated the community aspect of a wedding. Inasmuch as a wedding is for the happy couple, it's also very much an opportunity for other people to take part.
As we all crowded around to watch them dance at the end of the night, I found myself thinking a lot. In about a month, Jenny and I will be taking off for a destination wedding. In the last year, it seems like there have been a ton of people who have gotten engaged and/or married. Even one of the students who I taught 3 years ago recently got engaged and I couldn't be happier for her. I've been surrounded by commitment and marriage and inevitably reflecting on it. How do you know for sure? When's the right time? Questions like that.
I try to keep my thoughts focused on the present and I'm reminded of Yoda chastising Luke for always thinking ahead to the future and craving adventure and excitement. All his life has he looked away... to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. I think a sobering moment for me was when Lori sat down next to me later in the evening and I asked her if anything felt different and she happily answered with a simple, "nope". It didn't quite hit me until a few days later, but I realized that I've built up marriage in my head to be an event that somehow fundamentally changes a relationship, when perhaps it's more of a ritual of affirmation.
I'm slowly turning it over in my head as the days go by.
Click here to see all the photos from the wedding.