Friday, September 25, 2009

A Wedding Toast

By day's end tomorrow, one of my favorite people on the planet ("Quick Tommy tell him what he's won!") will make the transition for being a solo act to one-half of a whole. Tomorrow, a man who it has been my pleasure and privilege to call my friend - and even more so to have him consider me to be his - for almost twenty-five years is getting married.

Alex and I had just about settled into Room 487 in Farrand Hall at CU-Boulder in late August '85 when the big, tall Nordic-looking dude who was moving in next door popped his head in to say hello. He told us his name was John and he was from Aspen, Colorado. For the next four years, the three of us - slowing long enough to pick up Jay and Loku along the way - were essentially inseparable. After living next to one another our first year, John and I remained hall mates at Farrand Hall our second year (me having picked up Jay as a roomie and Loku as my across-the-hall neighbor) when Alex moved off campus. When we were juniors the three of us shared a house at 943 Broadway with Jay and two other fellas. Finally as seniors John, Jay, Alex and I shared a dump of an apartment at 2228 Canyon Boulevard.

Through the entirety of our time at CU (or in my case the final 3 1/2 years as I spent the first semester of my first year doing anything but studying) we studied hard, worked hard and played even harder. Oh the stories we could tell. And but for my unfamiliarity with the State of Colorado's criminal code and its statutes of limitations for various and sundry infractions, I would. Suffice it to say that since as a group we worked hard to become fairly accomplished academically (all of us were Dean's List students and in the case of most of us it was because we really worked hard in challenging fields of study....and in my case it was because I majored in Political Science. Yep, my B.A. is in B.S. - feel free to feign surprise as you see fit) so when the opportunity presented itself to blow off steam we did - with a vengeance. No one got hurt (at least "permanently injured") in the process and years later the mere thought of some of the silliness in which we engaged never fails to make me smile, which is of course a good thing. The older we get, the more we need a reason to smile.

We were deprived our "big finish" at CU, not by academia or law enforcement but rather by a fairly gnarly fall John took while skiing what had been intended to be his final run of the day on the final ski day of the season in the Spring of '89. In my mind's eye it happened not much more than a month before our May 12th Graduation. The final time I saw him was not on campus or at graduation but rather in a hospital room in Boulder. We all said goodbye to the big guy there as his mom and dad prepared to transport him home to Aspen to repair his body and his soul. He, of course, graduated but he did so on a date and at a time separate and apart from Alex and me. Twenty plus years later I still feel the hole.

I have not seen John in the two decades since graduation but throughout the years we have kept in touch. He is still the same poster boy for outdoor living and athletic activities as a man of 43 that he was as a boy of 18. Far be it from me to tell the State Director of Tourism for the State of Colorado how to do his/her job but if he is not the flesh-and-blood cover of your media guide every year, I know not who is.

And tomorrow he is getting married. I have never met Maggie - his bride - but feel as if I have based upon the way in which he has described her. Tomorrow the two shall become one. My most sincere wish for them is that the journey they begin together always brings them more joy than they ever hoped for and never brings them more adversity than they can handle. Just two strangers 'neath the wedding garland, exploring the mystery, braving the danger and embracing the beauty of it all.

Here's to them.

-AK

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