Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Love Story

Saturday, July 26, 2008 Darren and Amy finally got married. I say finally even though they had only been engaged since March 15th, the first year anniversary of their first kiss. They had been friends since the first day of college at Whitworth. Friends, just friends. Darren’s first attempt at a kiss was at a New Year’s Eve party 18 months prior to their wedding. Amy refused. She, ever the romantic, didn’t want it to be the alcohol talking. Darren, although mightily rejected, didn’t want to let it die. It would have been easy to say that this just wasn’t ever going to work. “You don’t have to tell me twice,” he could have easily said. He reported this incident to his law school buddies and there was universal agreement that any romance would be an uphill struggle. Fate entangles souls so deliciously.

Despite this obvious setback to any attempt at upgrading the level of intimacy between them, Darren and Amy continued to be the friends they had always been. As a law student, Darren was used to angst and this was just more of it. Amy was used to not settling for anything less than what was in her mind’s eye, and this was just more of that.

In earlier days, Amy always seemed to have a boyfriend. One of them had even been a roommate of Darren’s in the dorm. Years later, Amy had moved to the forgotten and forsaken town of Fernley, Nevada, from Virginia to teach and be close to her current love interest, and he continued to do what brought him to a town like Fernley. The ever independent Amy lacked neither commitment, nor single mindedness, nor, ultimately, common sense. Fernley is not a compelling community. It does not inspire careers. It does not speak to growth, maturity and life long happiness. It is merely a waypoint in life’s journey. It cannot be more. And, it simply wasn’t to be for Amy.

Darren continued his education at law school. When he was home from Baylor, she came to visit again and again, conveniently dis-entwined from her current beau. One cannot say that she was brazen in her overtures but, she was clearly open to letting bygones be bygones. They would sit on the couch watching TV and Amy would be leaning uncomfortably close to Darren. So much so that it would have been impossible for him not to get a hint of discomfort himself. But, he remained both stoic and platonic. Once burned, twice cool as the saying goes.

Darren was home for his last academic spring break. Amy came to visit. They were both disciplined and wary. When it was time for him to go, His mother and I said goodbye to him at our front door because Amy drove him to the airport for his last trip back to school. It was at the airport then that Darren grabbed her and asked her if their relationship could be something more. She drove home. He flew back to Baylor on the clouds. A promise sealed with a kiss.

At their wedding reception, Darren told the story of Whitworth traditions by way of explaining the Ring Pop party favors on each table. It seems that there are three traditions at Whitworth that are well known and revered; 1) Catch a virgin pine cone, 2) Drop a food tray in the commons, and 3) Ring by spring. Amy had found his calendar and surreptitiously entered the accomplishments of these traditions on random future dates though she was unable to disguise her handwriting. As the pages turned, Darren caught the virgin pine cone, he rejected the wasteful disregard for real food, but, as if passing all of the requirements, presented her with a Ring Pop on the given day; thus, sealing his fate -- a fate little known to either of them at the time. Amy, of course, had other romantic interests and Darren was just a friend. When he ultimately proposed, the diamond engagement ring he presented was nestled in a plastic facsimile of a Ring Pop. The Whitworth tradition lives on.

The tradition of toasting at weddings derives from biblical blessings. The original Jewish concept was that blessings were conveyed by God onto his people. Moses, as God’s conduit, passed blessings on to the twelve tribes of Israel. The blessing became a matter of passing the spiritual and birthright inheritance down to subsequent generations. In the hundreds of generations since, it has become a way of passing good wishes on to those being blessed. The Irish have turned it into a poetic art form. At this wedding, we carried on that tradition -- though not necessarily the poetic part.

The fathers of the Bride and Groom toasted their children. The Best Man and Maid of Honor spoke personally about the qualities of their own relationships with the betrothed. Both Amy’s father and sister struggled with their comments, overwhelmed by their own sense of loss on the occasion. They were clearly happy and yet their happiness was tinged with a profound sense of emptiness that only the tincture of time will cure.

I was able to toast to their happiness with composure. I think that this sense of loss manifests only in the bride’s side of the family. I could be wrong about this, but I go by my unerring guage for this sort of thing, my wife Anne, who will cry when only the merest suggestion to be sympathetic exists. She was beaming virtually the whole time.

As the father of the groom, I personally felt no need for bereavement of any kind. I am happy with the union of these two of our progeny and I am delighted with the prospect of what is to come. They have both accepted the independence gained with adulthood and embraced their future with each other. Their marriage can only be modeled on what they have seen from their parents and extended families, that is, years of stability and working relationships that are built on mutual respect, love, trust, faith, and friendship. What could be better than that?

A toast:

Anybody who knows me even casually has probably heard me say that my life began when I met Anne. Though she rolls her eyes almost every time she hears it, truer words were never spoken. If you knew me a little better, you might have heard me say that there’s a reason that God didn’t give me girls. The shrill shrieking and squeaking that accompanies most of them through their formative years is way beyond my ability to cope. But when they come into your life at the age of 25, they’re kind of nice to have around. So, to Amy: Welcome to the family.

I could stand here and tell you cute stories from Darren’s youth…interesting stories from his adolescence…embarrassing stories. But somehow these stories always seem to circle back to illustrate one of my own failings. I think I will forego the humiliation for the both of us.

I present to you Darren and Amy Indermill, standing at the very beginning of their journey. May your journey together be blessed with a smile on your lips, the sun on your cheeks, a gentle breeze to cool your temperaments, and no burdens larger than together you both can bear. To a long and happy life together.

We raised our glasses.

This was far from a fairy tale. In retrospect, the story unfolds with certainty, with all the signs pointing in the direction of wedded bliss, but nothing could have been farther from the truth. That these two found themselves together after seven years of friendship is a testament to how well they knew what they wanted for themselves rather than any perseverance or patience either of them may have had for the other. If this was a marriage made in heaven, only heaven knows how Darren and Amy managed to put up with God’s plan. The only regret either of them may have is how muddled the path seemed from their first day at Whitworth to this.

© 2008 Mark Indermill - All Rights Reserved

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