My best friend got married the day before I left for Scotland. I packed up all my things, I put the suitcases into the garage, and I drove the four hours up to Vermont and found myself in a bar, by myself, waiting for her.
I hadn’t been sure I was going to make it. The year before, my graduate course had started three weeks earlier. But I had enough time—I just just had enough time—and here I was in this bar, waiting for one of my oldest friends and her fiancé.
I can’t remember meeting him. I’ve tried. I think it’s because he’s been around for so long, and he feels like such a natural part of my life, of my history with this friend. I jokingly called him my brother-in-law, but it wasn’t a joke. Because he’s family to me in a way that she is, he is the family we choose for ourselves rather than the family we are stuck with, born into. He is the family you go out and find, just like she is the family I found so long ago, back in middle school, when she sat down in front of me and let her long hair spill over the top of my desk. I didn’t know then that she would become such a huge part of my life. I wasn’t aware until six or seven years later. I called her from someone’s dorm room and I think, in no small way, she might have saved my life. And I sort of realized—oh. This person will never go away. I will get to know her forever.
The wedding was beautiful in the way that it was her, exactly. I could see her in every paper flower; I could see her in the centerpieces and in the papier-mâché balls that hung from the rafters of the old barn. I could see her in the old typewriter, in the hand-stamped greeting cards, in the bouquet of wheat she handed to me when she reached the makeshift altar.
It’s too obvious a statement, it doesn’t mean enough, but: I’m so happy I got to be there. I’m so happy I got to take her wedding pictures and I’m so happy I got to stand next to her and I’m so happy she asked me to read something at the ceremony. I’m just so happy for her, in that way you can only be happy for someone you love so explicitly, so without-limits. In that way you can sometimes be happier for someone else’s happiness than you can ever be for your own.
I find myself going back to her wedding often. Everything green and open and spread out in front of me. I was getting on an airplane the next day, I was drinking whisky and ginger beer out of a mason jar and I was finding myself so unexpectedly swept off my feet. In a literal sense, really—the night swept me off my feet. The night and the people and her smile and the way she pressed her hands into my hands and said—I have someone I want you to meet. The way I rolled my eyes and laughed and the way she shrugged her shoulders like she knew something I didn’t know.
She knew something I didn’t know.
Now we are separated by an ocean and by a five hour time difference navigated by video calls, lots of text messages, and emails with photographs of us from ten years ago, young and smiling and so, so naïve.
I’m so happy and excited for you she writes to me one morning. I’m drinking coffee on my couch; I’m listening to music and still waking up. Then, later: No time is ever really right. You just live each day.
And I think—when did this happen? When did this person grow up, become an adult, get married, get a house, a dog, a life. And then I think—Has this happened to me, too? Does it sneak up on you? Do you one day wake up and change? And will I know it, when it happens?
Or has it, maybe, already.
all photographs (except the last) taken by me with a canon t1i and various lenses.