My friend Diane got married on Oct 22nd. We have known each other for 32 years. It’s funny how time changes us and yet we remain the same. Old friends are like time travel, we seem to revert to the person we once were, yet, when we see them, their faces are transformed in our memories and replaced by the face of now, more lines, more time, so we not only move backwards in time but also forward like walking a thin line above the precipice which is existence.
She was married in the Bahamas, her native home. She paid for my ticket there. I don’t know why she offered that to me. Our visits together have been brief and far spread mere bits of flotsam in the full flowing river of life since our college years. I love her dearly. My memories of the times we spent are some of the most beautiful and special of my life, chasing whales, dancing to reggae at Waterloo, flying fish, papaya breakfasts, boiled fish and johnneycake, partying till you can party no more, swims in crystal blue and green waters, flights in old delapidated sea planes, many many parties in our old Riverview house with its Cypress floors and no screens, the war of the bugs on our walls each night, the ghosts by fireplaces, the 150 foot dock reaching out into the Indian River lagoon where we watched manatee and horseshoe crab and blue heron and bottlenose dolphin. There were nights under the heavily laden skys in Mexico, where the weight of the stars knocked you to your knees, where we made friends with humpbacks who we recognized by their tales.
The wedding was beautiful,so many loving friends, all scientists living the lives of dreams from all over the world, England, Australia, even Mauricias, a country which only holds some dim recess in my memory from a long dusty geography book. They were married on a platform over the blue tropical Atlantic and long curved white sand beach. They wore simple white dresses, their hands clasped, their feet bare, as they gazed at each other alternating tenderness and laughter and glances of quiet love. Friends sang songs of love for them as I watched over the heads of their family, their eyes full of tears.
They spared no expense. The champagne and liquor ran freely and was lifted in joyous toast more than just a few times during the evening. There were speeches where we learned their pasts, of which I have been no part. I listened to their words of remembrance, of love, of hope, of praise. I listened and the crowd listened as rapt in attention as a group of kindergartners being read a story or teenagers engrossed in a video game. The hall became a theater. The wedding, a performance.
We danced to live music, just a little too loud, until our ears became accustomed (or deafened). The dancing was joyous but mostly shuffling from foot to foot, swaying from side to side, occasionally arms thrown up in merry abandonment. I watched them dance as I danced and mostly all faced the new couple except for the few partners who danced with each other to slower songs. Others surrounded the dance floor, marvelling at the dancing, or quietly absorbed into their own thoughts whether it be of their own weddings, or lost loves, or long dead husbands or wives, or the wishful desire for their own love.
I watched them dance, heads tipsy and reeling with this profound moment. At moments completely engrossed and in others diverted with need to make friends feel welcome. I watched and I was so happy for them. I hoped that joy would fill their lives. Mixed with the happiness was the pain of loss of those beautiful times, those who have passed who were once with us, love that is still within us but also lost at the same time stabbing us with little pains of regret.
There is no end. Lives rise and falls as the waves beneath the platform upon which they spoke their vows. I will always dream of those living waters. Those moments will always bring tears to my eyes as long as I love, as long as there is love, as long as people are in love.