When Jess and Joel asked me to do the reading at the wedding, I panicked. I felt rusty, and I had no idea what to say that wouldn't sound like I was making a toast. But this is what I came up with, and I like it. (Please keep in mind it was intended to be read-aloud, speech-like.)
Five years ago, almost to the month, I wrote a column largely based on Jess and Joel. They hung it on their fridge so they must’ve liked it, although I don’t know why. In it, I ranted about “perfect couples” using the two of them as my prime example. I was in a very different place back then. I was lonely; I was the tiniest bit bitter. At the time, I resented their happiness and jokingly came up with a hypothesis that if we constantly told perfect couples how wonderful they were, they would crack under the pressure of constant scrutiny and then everyone would be lonely and bitter like me.
Fortunately, I didn’t follow my own advice and here we are.
I defined the perfect couple like this- “They are not the two that are always making out in front of you because they can’t keep their hands off each other, or the pair that never fights. They don’t call each other baby names or wear matching sweaters. They’re the couple that gives each other enough space and still exudes such an aura of happiness and love that they don’t need to make it obvious.
Basically, their understated togetherness is sickening to us mere mortals.”
When I wrote that, I was shocked to discover that couples don’t like the be called perfect—as if the word has a stigma or carries a curse, as if by admitting that they have it so good will make everything crumble around their feet. I also noticed that they didn’t really believe they were perfect, that they didn’t deserve the title. That’s because they easily could think of a dozen little private challenges they were facing every day—but that’s just it. Those challenges are what make them ideal—two real, wonderful people trying to find a single path they could walk along together. All I could see was that, in each other, they had found somebody who was worth the effort, someone who would steady them if they stumbled, someone who could borrow their strength when it was needed. And to me, that seemed pretty… perfect.
That’s something that hasn’t changed in five years.
What has changed is how I feel. Then, I was jealous, like there was no chance I would ever be so lucky. Today, however, I feel hopeful. I feel inspired. I feel proud. Today, Jess and Joel are here to tempt fate and admit to the universe that they have found in each other the kind of authentic love that all of us here can aspire to, that can remind us to cherish what we already have.
And that’s beautiful, and very worthy of our admiration.