There are very specific things I miss about Texas:
Cowboy boots worn unironically.
How late nights, when dressed in fine formal-wear, almost always, and perhaps inevitably, end up at Whataburger.
The obvious appreciation of a woman's beauty and how it is never mistaken for the whole of her worth.
Chivalry, and manners, and nods to long-standing traditions.
It was so special to be home this weekend for one of my dearest and oldest friend's wedding. It is my great regret that I do not have more photos of the event (I had so many cameras with me and such grand plans!). But I think it is a testament to the people I was with, and the movement of the weekend, that I didn't want to pause to pull out a camera, too invested, as I was, in the actual moment.
I love that last photo taken of Whitney because it was the end of the night and probably the first time she'd sat down in hours and her makeup had worn off a bit, but she looked so beautiful in that way that sees the full weight of the day on her face is like oh-yeah-we-just-did-that--we-got-married! A good while ago she asked me to give a toast at the rehearsal dinner and while my delivery was less than stellar--my hands were shaking so badly I could barely read the words on the teensy sheets of hotel stationary (something about getting older and nerves manifesting themselves in different ways)--I, with her permission, want to share it here now:
This is my wish for you:
A lifetime of the hand on the thigh in that way that does’t usually survive long marriages.**
The hand that hooks the back of your waist when you step off the curb a moment too soon.
Quiet Sunday mornings and meals around a full table.
Caught eyes in a crowded room.
A lifetime of listening for the other person’s footsteps. For their keys turning in the door.***
I wish for you laughter. More than anyone can reasonably expect.
For the the arm that reaches out at three in the morning after you’ve gotten up to use the bathroom.
For silences that are full and familiar. And words that are honest and reaching.
Unsolicited smiles. And affection without agenda.
I wish you traditions and rituals--Chinese dinners sitting legs crossed on the living room floor—because the furniture will come, no rush.
That you take to heart the lessons of your parents’ incredible commitment to one another.
And that you break a few rules for one another.
And when things get cold and quiet and still, as they inevitably will because life is long and not tremendously easy, I hope you remember that on a day in the middle of an unseasonably cold Texas November, you pledged your lives to one another—you pledged your whole selves, imperfect and flawed and human as they are.
And that commitment is carried out on the level of the everyday gestures.
The pot of coffee put on before the other wakes. The passed sports section. The flowers for no reason at all. Dancing in the kitchen, two in the morning, bare feet and no music. Tangled sheets and all the fun that that entails.
I won’t wish for you a perfect life because how uninteresting. Nothing worthy is easy. And it is the difficulty of any journey—the trudge of it—that gives it meaning and shape.
So I wish you both a bit of fight and quite a lot of grit.
But more than anything, it is my great hope that you remember you are loved. By this incredible person sitting next you. This person who seems like an impossibility—because how the hell did you get lucky enough to meet them—and how the hell did you get lucky enough to wake up next to them day after day? I hope you remember that this impossibility-of-a-person has chosen you. And in the face of that—of that love and that choice—failure is laid waste to. You. cannot. fail. So take risks and dare on a grand scale. Because whatever mistakes or missteps you may make—the person on the other side of the commitment you’ll make tomorrow is your absolute champion.
And how lucky that is.
So to everything that comes next, I raise my glass…
**brazenly inspired (perhaps, stolen) from a line in an Anna Quindlen novel.
***hijacking the notion of a quote I love, but can't seem to find in this moment, will link as soon as I do.