building new castles every day

A speech for friendship

In Doings on October 2, 2012 at 7:06 AM

This weekend I had the absolute joy of celebrating the wedding of my two friends, Caroline and Rob.

With Phil and sixty other friends and family, I  sailed to Galiano Island for two days of beautiful autumn weather. We set up Wedding Headquarters at the 5-acre home of the bride’s mother and everyone pitched in with the cooking, decorating, shuttling and set up.

Overlooking Active Pass, we observed Caroline and Rob exchange their vows and commit their lives to each other.  Beside her stood her four siblings. Beside him stood his best man and cousin. An old friend from high school, having travelled back from Alberta, played the fiddle as they walked together to the ocean-view alter.

Later, after carpooling back to Wedding HQ (via a stop at the pub and a pause for a power nap), the reception guests found their seats, left their fingerprints, and gathered around the potluck appetizers. An old friend of the family donated eight sockeye salmon, barbequed in coconut curry, and the rest of the dinner spread was filled with roasted vegetables, salads, curry chicken, cheeses, breads and Tuscan beans.

After some wine and conversations over wishing stones, it was time for some speeches. A few weeks prior, I had been on a bike trip with my father and got to thinking about how I wanted to say something publicly to my two dear friends. I returned home and found a message from Caroline asking me if I would do such a thing.

Indeed, I would.

But it took me until the day before the wedding to get my thoughts articulated. Not that I was avoiding the task. It’s just that I couldn’t start writing without tears pouring all over my keyboard. So I decided to let the happy tears flow. Every time I heard a song that reminded me of them. Even when I went running on the trails to let my mind relax.

In the end, I don’t regret this time spent letting my emotions flow. I believe this made space for my feelings to transform into words. And the feelings did eventually transform into the following speech which, upon delivery, received incredibly positive feedback. Most importantly from C & R.

Hello everyone,

It’s a privilege to share a few thoughts with you today, as a friend of both the bride and the groom.

You know, I’ve heard about other people disliking their best friend’s fiancé. Avoiding them at cost. Subtly (or not so subtly) persuading their best friend to explore greener pastures.

But not Caroline’s Rob.

No, when someone like Rob makes it his mission to be your friend, you just can’t say no.

This is because Rob’s perspective on life is so damn compelling. This man looks for the light (and even the shadows) in everything and everyone. Whether it’s through the lens of his camera or through general acts of service, Rob makes it clear what he feels about you.

Pair this with his determination and you have a friend who won’t take no for an answer. Who will help you find your own strengths. Who makes you feel valued.

He’s done this for me, and he’s done this especially for Caroline.

How do I know this? Well, I like to think of Caroline and I as ethnographers. We explore the world, especially ourselves, and document our observations in letters to each other.

And over the last five years, since Rob has been in Caroline’s life, I have witnessed an increase in happier sentiments, richer experiences, and unforgettable moments documented in Caroline’s letters.

We started writing these letters when we parted ways after our first year of university (almost ten years ago). Caroline is the one friend I’ve kept in touch with from that university, and I still put it down to some higher power that we were placed on the same floor in our residence building.

Caroline is my inwardly processing, outwardly expressing friend. She inspires me with her inherent creativity and resourcefulness. Caroline can whip up an artifact of emotion with just a piece of paper and a single shade of colour. (And I have the snail mail envelopes, plus the tears and sore abs, to prove the effect!)

The other quality about you, Caroline, that inspires me, which I’d like to share with everyone, is your philosophy on baking. May sound a bit odd, but I believe this philosophy has actually translated to your whole life.

You see, Caroline kind of does recipes, but kind of doesn’t.

Basically, she keeps her kitchen stocked with ingredients that make her happy. Ingredients that she has learned work well together: All-purpose flour, sugar, maybe some rice flour, chocolate chips, pecans, baking soda, eggs, cocoa powder.

Then, when she gets an idea to make something, say a batch of cookies, the specific quantities don’t appear all that important to her. (I mean, they do, but there’s a lot of rounding involved.)

What seems to be important for Caroline is the process of pulling out the ingredients and deciding, that day, what’s going to work for her.

Over the years, I’ve noticed (as I’m sure she has) that Caroline’s intuition has taught her what her cookies require to be delicious, and ultimately, what her life requires to be fulfilling. Ingredients have changed over the years, just like the people in your life.

But today, you’ve added one of the greatest staples to your cupboard. Rob. Your husband. What better ingredient to have, with all the rest of us in your kitchen, to make the best cookies from now on!

So here’s to you both. To your love and to your commitment to each other. But also to your courage! The courage you have to move across the country, build new communities for yourselves, and then carry that love together to the other coast.

The courage you have to make your feelings public, not only through your photography and your paintings, but through your vows today.

This courage inspires me, and I believe it inspires all of us here. In a world where facts are questioned and a sense of security can be dicey, you two give us courage to also trust, support and grow together.

To be better friends.

So thank you for your friendship. It is an honour to celebrate this day with you, Rob and Caroline. Congratulations! 

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