Thank you all for coming today.
I am not normally the type to give wedding speeches. Despite the nearly fifteen wedding ceremonies I have attended since my own wedding in 2002, I have never once been asked to give a speech about the couple. (To be fair to my friends and family, I have not volunteered to, either.)
I would be remiss if I did not stand here and take some time to tell you a bit about two people who have made a lifetime commitment to each other today – my best friend Hannah, and her new husband Jason.
Hannah and I met through strange conditions. In Minneapolis, you’ll find Augsburg College, a small liberal arts school shaped by the faith and values of the Christian Church. Founded in 1869, their motto is “Through Truth To Freedom”. I had never heard of Augsburg back in 1995 – in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who went there or wanted to go there. But Augsburg, in early 1995, was one of the handful of places running a public internet BBS, known as “Auggie”. And so that year, while sitting in the Auggie chat room, I met someone with the handle of “CrOW” – yes, only the R was lower case – who claimed to be a girl of the same age (14 at the time) as I was. I was incredulous at first, but her story checked out.
For those four years of high school, we were nearly inseparable. She introduced me to the sorts of bands that all parents dread their children listening to – the sort that anger the blood. We called each other every year on New Year’s Eve, and we would sit on the phone and count down the clock to the next year. We had no great attachment to New Year’s, it just seemed like a way to tolerate a strange holiday. We wrote long, hand-written letters to each other, even though my handwriting is poor and we had email. I heard about her boyfriends; she heard about my girlfriends. When we finally met in person in the summer of 1996, I was terrified; with two teenage introverts in close proximity, we were mostly silent for the entire weekend.
We sent each other silly gifts – most notably, I received a hose clamp meant to be worn as a ring, that I did wear until the day I got married. She made her way as a character into short stories I had written for English class. She was my Junior Prom date – many of my high school classmates hadn’t believed she existed, but I suppose we showed them.
During college, we drifted apart – she told me in a very short email that she “hated computers” and would do everything in her power to stay away from them. I tried not to take it personally. The years rolled by, until one night as I sat very bored in a very empty space, my mind sprung back to her. I called her mom’s house – the only number I had for her – and was thankfully still a familiar name to her mother, who gave me her current number. When I called and said “It’s Dan”, there was about fifteen seconds of laughter from her end of the phone. And then, it was as if things hadn’t changed a bit – the missing years just melted away. We gave each other a hard time for not keeping in touch, mocked each other for our choices in major, and she told me about this guy “Jason” she was thinking of asking out.
In the eight years since, we returned to talking nearly every day, finding each other as a constant source of distraction. Things are a little different now – instead of being treated to discussions about the latest Rage Against The Machine album, I’m shown pictures of the quilts she’s working on. Instead of complaining about high school and summer jobs, we complain about our real jobs and planning for retirement. Last year, she came to New York to visit – the first time I had seen her in over 10 years. I am happy to say that the awkwardness from all of our previous visits was finally gone.
Hannah is everything I could ask for in a friend – sharp witted, strongly opinionated, willing to laugh at nearly anything. She handles an incredible amount of stress with grace – her wedding planning has entirely taken place while she’s been taking summer courses and working full time. Every time I asked how she was doing, she appeared to have things under control. She puts her heart completely into everything she does. She is one of two friends I have that I would describe as “painfully truthful”. (It goes without saying that because of this, we argue a lot.)
I raise my glass to you both. For today and today only, I will not be above cliché or platitude. May you always make each other smile. May you be there for each other, always and unconditionally. May you forgive each other’s transgressions. May you grow old together.
Jason: I haven’t gotten to meet you yet, outside of looking at your photos on Flickr and the stories I have been told. I have no doubt that you are a great guy, as Hannah has proven over the years to be picky on levels I cannot begin to describe. She speaks the world of you, you make her incredibly happy, and that’s all I could ever ask out of someone who would marry my dearest friend. I hope to get to know you better over the coming years. Treat Hannah well, and if she doesn’t do the same in return, let me know – I will be happy to knock some sense into her.
Hannah: What is there left to say, really? You are my sounding board, my confidante, and frequently a thorn in my side. I love you, and I’m looking forward to this next chapter in your life.
My one wish is that I could be there today to tell you all this myself, rather than hoping you’ll read it in a few days.
To Hannah and Jason.