Julie + Bri, Calgary Wedding Reception

A speech given by their dear friend, Andrew:

“Writing something for Brianna and Julie is tough for a lot of reasons.  First among which is that I don’t have many stories about you, Julie – but I’m sure those will come with time.  Second is the fact that most of my stories about Bri are also about Kir.  And most of my stories about Bri and Kir involve them being late or just in time for major, major things.  But since this is Brianna (and Julie’s) big day, and she’s made it on time – most of my speech-writing material is shot.  So I hope you don’t mind if I pull a little switcheroo and talk about things big and things small – if you do mind, I’m sorry, because that’s all I’ve written about. Small here also hopefully means among other things a small speech – but no promises

First: the small.  And this involves just one small question.  Here’s goes: what’s within a wedding ring?  A slender slip of bone, definitely; tender blood-vessels; a twitch of tendon. The small steady pulses of life. This much is in a ring, at least.  But is there anything more in that loop? Is there?  I don’t have one myself, but I think so.  Now the big: some people say a ring represents a commitment.  I only half believe this – the same way that I believe in the heaviness of a hoop of gold.  It’s a TV trope to see the twisting wringing of a ring on the finger of a philanderer as he contemplates his infidelity – or the dent on a digit marking something gone, something wrong.  But this heaviness of commitment is something that we only see when we think of failure, of brokenness.

That is not the kind of commitment I see when I look at these two beautiful women.  I see a cluster of choices.  I see one crucial choice – one amazing, joyful choice – among many.  I see the past, here as well: the circuitous, serendipitous choices that led them to meet; the bold fraggle-humped decision to live together; the tough touring calls and conciliations.  But I also see the hard ones in the future.

What I want to say is that commitment is not as simple as an act, as if it is something that can be made and done once, and broken and discarded only once.  A commitment is not avoidance of a single act of defiance.  But neither is it as simple as a clutch of words.  Mantras matter, but they’re not everything.  Commitments are complex, strange and difficult things, parameters and bounds on feelings and ideas, on movements and words, on space and time. But commitments are as simple and small as a promise – if simple, and small, means complexities built within complexities. How can the vows exchanged today be more than an act, more than just words, but still be so small, and so simple?  What else has gone on?

Here I want to finish by saying why a promise can be small and simple, but at the same time huge and intricate.  Gaston Bachelard once talked about the way poets experienced the world: they saw in things a hidden depth, a great grandeur and mystery to be plumbed.  What poets saw was the way in which things could “accumulate infinity within [their] own boundaries”.  This, I want to suggest, is what commitment means.   Brianna and Julie, you have exchanged some beautiful vows today, but now enacting those vows is the tough part – it’s a fractal fight within the bounds you’ve set out today.

Every choice you make now is expressing your commitment made today – is exploring your hidden depths and grandeur of joy, and happiness, of stoicism, and sadness; sassy looks, embarrassed squeals, tepid mornings, disappointing days; of anger, anguish, adulation, admiration. Beauty. –and grace.  Every choice from now on is accumulating an infinity – your own infinity, together.”

And then, celebration :)


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