I flew in (back to Houston) last night from a week in New York at what amounted to a giant week-long slumber party, preparing for Blakey's wedding. It was honestly one of the most memorable weeks of my entire life. I'll share some memories and stories at a later date, once my brain wakes up and starts processing again. I'm running on very little sleep and spent my last night OUT IN THE CITY UNTIL 5AM with a crew of groomsmen and sword bearers who begged me to go out with them after the reception so they could show me around. I gladly obliged, and it was just such a blast. But, that's a story for another post.
The night before the wedding, I wrote a toast and asked Jaym (maid of honor; Blake's sister) if there'd be time for me to share it. She said yes, of course, and so I did.
Without further ado, to my beloved Blake and her beloved Michael:
So we pulled each other through high school and called ourselves the Dynamic Duo because we had this little secret between us that, together, we could accomplish just about anything…and get it done more quickly and efficiently than just about anyone else. At sixteen we teamed up to co-chair an event that raised over $30,000, and we pretty much thought we were the coolest things on the block in our blue dresses and horribly tacky fake eyelashes and light blue eye shadow. The curtains opened to Carrie Underwood singing a song about fairytales, as we twirled each other on our way to the podium, where we spent 3 hours telling REALLY BAD JOKES between acts. For the first hour, the audience supplied us with pity laughs, and then we took it too far with a horribly not-funny pickle joke and there wasn’t even a single giggle from the crowd. You could have heard a pin drop in that auditorium.
A few days later we sat cross-legged on your living room floor covered in papers as we assembled a binder to tell “next year’s people” all the best ways to run the event. That night, your mom asked us if we needed anything and I told her I’d like a vodka with cranberry, please, and she said “WHAT?!?” and we all busted up laughing. I still ask her for one every time we’re together, and I’ve still never had one, but I tell everyone it’s my favorite drink. No one has any clue where that even came from.
Senior year we did a bit better. We organized the blowing up of a thousand helium balloons for our small-town senior homecoming float, and then you curled my hair and we wore almost matching bubblegum pink dresses. I set you up with my boyfriend’s cousin, who ended up being a TOTAL DUD, but you were a TOTAL STUD and stuck the whole night out with us just so I’d have a friend. You’ve always been the best true blue friend around.
You buttoned my dress for senior prom, and you were a prom princess. I wanted to be green with envy but I just couldn’t possibly be because you were so gosh dang beautiful and deserved that sash more than any girl in the entire school.
We rafted and camped and rappelled and jumped off bridges together. We spent days and days at the lake, our hair blowing in the wind as we tanned in the back of a ski boat. I’d show up at your house without knocking and change clothes in your driveway, and your mom would always give me heck for all that stuff…and she still does.
The summer after senior year I went through a heart-wrenching breakup and called you to ask if I could book a next-week ticket to Vermont. You told me you had no beds or furniture in the house but YES I COULD COME, and so I spent half my summer earnings and bought a plane ticket. We stayed in our pajamas for a week and slept on air mattresses and ate an entire family-sized bag of Captain Crunch with berries and watched two whole seasons of Gilmore Girls and gave ourselves face masks with cucumbers on our eyes. It was a true blue friend thing. You’re so good at those. The next year, I sent you a box of captain crunch and a loaf of zucchini bread for your birthday because I couldn’t think of a more appropriate gift to send.
We backpacked Europe together and have pictures in Hallstatt, Austria, Alps towering in the background; in Cadiz, doing cartwheels on the beach; at a Belgian flea market with overloaded backpacks buckled around our waists; in front of the Eiffel tower as it shimmered on the hour; eating banana-nutella crepes at a Parisian market; holding a cheap bottle of white wine—that one comes with a good story—and one on a train holding tickets to some foreign country.
We almost got stuck in a train station during street riots in Madrid, but you said “I think I know a lady who might be our ticket out,” and you called Katherine and she drove all night through the mountains and we hopped on the last train out of the station and got off on a stop in the middle of nowhere and THERE SHE WAS to rescue us. She whisked us over the mountains and into France and gave us a room and a bed in her house and treated us like queens. You and I nearly killed each other when we were stuck in that station with seemingly no way out of the country, but we didn’t, and that’s a good thing because Michael needed you to come home!
When we were in Cadiz, you started skyping this “cute guy” you had met just before flying to meet me. You told me you met him at McDonald’s and thought you might marry him. We were eighteen with backpacks on and French pastries in hand, walking down the Champs d’ Elysses a few days later, and I rolled my eyes and told you “yeah, whatever, okay” but you told me you were serious, and I told you it was a fun thought. Guess I should have believed you then! Blake Marie, you’ve always been true to your word—and Michael got the best end of that character quality this time around.
It’s been just over three years since that day, and your sailor is back from sea and just took you to be his wife for as long as you both shall live. Michael, thank you for loving this girl we love so well. Blake—you picked a good one. I cannot wait to watch your together-life unfold, and I thank God you’re my best Duo friend. I love you!
To Blake and Michael, Forever Karas: CHEERS!
I love the way fire works.
You spend all this time chopping logs and gathering leaves and breaking sticks up into itty bitty pieces...and then you crouch down low on your knees and put all the tiny pieces together and fashion them into a miniature teepee. You light a match. And you sit there on your haunches leaning over the wispy smoke with your nose and forehead so close to the ground you can smell the dirt. You blow tenderly, ever so softly, and try to coax the leaves to light the baby sticks, to light the bark.
One tiny ember is a sure sign of hope. You give the faint spark some air and feed it a leaf and beg it to grow...grow! And then the leaf catches and you pray the sticks will join before the leaves burn out--and all the while this pile of stuff you're working with is no bigger than your fist. Pint-sized. You keep blowing into the little space and dropping more baby sticks inside...and then you hear the popping. One pop, then another, then it's like the whole stick orchestra has sprung to life. It's music to your ears. "Keep popping," you plead.
Still, no flames.
Just smoke. Billowy smoke, now. The kind of smoke that assures you the leaves have burned out and the sticks are getting hot. Your eyes sting--and water. You can still smell the dirt. Anyone from a distance would think you'd gone mad. Face an inch from the ground, on all fours, blowing little puffs of air into a pile of damp rubble that, for all intents and purposes, is just a stack os sticks. But you know better. You can feel the heat, see the thin line of billowing smoke rise and then get carried away by the wind before it ever crests over the top of the fire ring.
You know there's hope. You, only you, can see the single orange ember holding all the Life. You're near enough to notice. And so you keep coaxing and feeding and blowing. You know that once the ember gets hot, the sticks will alight with embers of their own--one spark turning into two, into ten, into a whole flame.
The popping gets louder, and a stick catches; the flame too faint to be seen by anyone but you. Because you're the one who has drawn near. The one who has chosen to stick it out. You guard the burning stick with your entire being; your body between it and the breeze. You lean over it and catch the raindrops on your back, because you know the stick's flame is still fragile. It cannot yet handle a wet teardrop.
You gather more sticks. These, slightly larger. You stack them around the one with the flame, and you bend low and blow oxygen. Your breath is the fuel the pile needs. It needs your presence to get going. If you leave, it will smoulder and fade--its few sparks lost to abandonment.
So, you stay. And you stack. The medium sticks catch fire, and now it's hot in the pit. You back away and grab some logs. You can trust the pile, now. It's hot enough to stand on its own, for a while.
Gently, you stack big logs around the growing, flaming pile. The flames lick at the bark and then the big logs give off fire of their own. You stand back. Friends gather. Food gets brought out. The Thing is now strong enough to keep itself aflame. It will burn on its own. You can eat your breakfast and take a walk and go for a swim and when you return, the logs will still be alight.
Every so often, you add more fuel.
But that's all the pile requires of you, now.
It has found a life of its own.
The sticks just needed Someone patient enough to Stay while they only smoked...Someone with enough foresight to see the one ember and Believe it could...would...light the night.
hey, i'm jordan.
i write here because i think our words are worth sharing.