Aglow in the Forest Fire: Speaking at my Best Friend's Wedding

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Hey all! I have been on the West coast for about two weeks now, traveled across three states, and collected a bunch of funky postcards. But the main event that brought me back happened last weekend: my best friend's wedding! I was the officiant, so I gave a short speech that I couldn't be more excited to share here. It is posted below - along with some photos of the gorgeous Trillium Lake where the wedding was held. Congratulations Heather and Tyler!

 Friends of the couple! Best man, bridesmaid, and officiant (left to right)
Dear Heather:
When we first met, I didn’t think about life stages. I invested more in the imagination games that kept us talking so much that our first grade teachers had to physically separate us between two different classrooms. It didn’t work out well. Every summer, I would have the same recurring thought of sneaking away in the backseat of your car so that we wouldn’t be separated yet again by the distance between Bellevue and Vancouver, or Moorpark, or Phoenix. I would run down the driveway and part way down the block waving as the truck trundled into the distance. So it was surprising, several years down that road, to realize that we had started to grow into young women who had the expectations of some keystone life markers coming up on us.

We’ve talked before about the things that we wanted to accomplish by this point. In our imagination games, we were everything from witches to vampire princesses, but at some point we realized that might not work out. So we transitioned to seeing ourselves as future college students, psychologists, photographers, feminists, and old people who’ve known each other so long, we just sit on the porch with our cats reminiscing about old times. We were moving so fast through all of the major milestones – learning to drive, moving away from home, making our own choices – that we never really paused to think about this day. Marriage seemed like something that might happen, but we weren’t sure when. Maybe we wouldn’t get to that stage at all, or much later than those around us predicted.

Battling the bride.

I didn’t think in stages because I could only really see what was right in front of us: the childhood friend that was growing up alongside me but in radically different ways. You are the version of yourself that I know from years of glimpses out of car windows and long messages left in voicemail inboxes. You are my Heather, my Heathy, and although I know I cannot own you, I am happy to share you with the many who have come into your life over the course of our 16 years of friendship. But I know that for every version of you re-created in my memory, there are versions of you I don’t know. Others have a version of you as well. There is a Sarah version of Heather and a Judy version and a Roger version and a version for your friends, new and old. Every person who touches your life gets changed in the process, just as you change with them. Everyone here has a version of Heather and a version of Tyler that they know and love and I am honored that the people who stand here before me are fitted to one another’s shapes so well they make one whole. For some time I know that you were concerned about finding someone who you could fit against, so you molded around their shapes in hopes of making it all work. But when you met Tyler, he held you tight and was so patient, he began to grow a home for both of you – slowly enough that you weren’t even aware of it until your heart moved in.

When I think of life stories, I think of forest fires. Forests tall with trees are ravaged each year by tongues of fire, burning away the dead things and leaving behind ash. Those people we once were are like the trees – beloved and lovely, but do not last forever. They weather some disasters better than others and know when their time is up. But out of the ash, those charred bits of our former selves, come up new green shoots where the past used to be. Some parts of us may be gone, but they are replaced by ever-new memories and lessons that make us who we will become.

I hope to have the honor of watching you grow into your next life stage together, marked by this moment out of the thousands and thousands of moments you will spend crafting the story of your life together. I will send you more letters, addressed to the Hoppes, and laugh with you, and share drinks with you, and know that even when I am not there beside you, you are taking care of one another. Tyler and Heather, I am overjoyed to see you grow together; to see your fingers intertwine like the branches of trees in a new forest. Even as fires continue to sweep through, I know you will both continue to grow towards the sky, because your love gives you only that one option.

Canoeing from the wedding to the reception area - that's me in the back of the red canoe!

We are here to celebrate you today, your friends and family members, as part of commemorating our love for you both. Let our love feed the fire of yours, as it carries you to new places and new heights. And do not doubt that when you need support, you have not only one another, but this incredible crowd of friends and admirers, to carry you through the storms. Congratulations, and best of luck.