One of these days, we will all look back and have a good, long laugh about how much trouble this website gave us. But that day is still  18 days away (whoa, what?!). So until then, suck it up. You'll thank us for working so hard on it. Meantime, take a look around. Listen to some music. And remember that we love you!

Ben & Melanie

A Kind of Introduction, & A Thank You

I've spent a considerable amount of time trying to find something to put here. I want to have something here that is poignant, and funny, and generally three-dimensional. But mostly I want something that takes about four and a half minutes to read, so that you will stay on this page long enough to let the whole song play. If I were a smart girl, I would remember that reading while listening to music is a disservice to everyone involved--authors and musicians and audiences alike. But we seem to live in frenetic times, full of fleeting moments. Life too often demands more bandwidth than one person should ever be forced to reckon with. If it were up to me, us grownups would get afternoon naps,  a half-hour recess after lunch (complete with yoga mats, swings, and monkey bars), and an hour to read every night before bed. At this point, though, it's not up to me. But I figure I'm still young, so I have time to work on that. Again, you'll thank me.

Meantime, there's the little problem of these four and a half minutes. Do I quote a passage from A Practical Wedding? Do I post the lyrics to the song that's playing and hope for the best? (That just seems too easy.) I spent at least an hour staring at our book collection, thinking about Garrison Keillor, and how Leaving Home was my closest companion while living in Niger. About Pablo Neruda and  E E Cummings, and the way they have painted a pastoral on my twenties. About Lewis Nordan and Richard Bach, who continue to change my life with every reread. Nothing quite fit the way I wanted it to. First and foremost, this website, and this wedding, is about Ben and Melanie, not Melanie and her addiction to alliteration. So stealing literature was basically out.

There's also the problem of timing, and of time; many of y'all are incredibly fast readers. At least two of you could probably read a chapter of Absalom, Absalom! in four and a half minutes. (Please do not go and try to do this now. I'm trying to have a conversation with you, here.) I'm just going to have to find something that looks long enough and stick to it.

So, then: what fits? How do I explain what this particular wedding means to these two particular people? Is there a way to speak meaningfully about the community we have chosen, and that--as part of that community--your coming to our wedding means much, much more than a big party with dinner and dancing, homebrew and hand-picked flowers? When I think of what's ahead of us on June 30, I think about seeing your lovely beaming faces and--depending on what kind of day I'm having--I either squeal or cry with joy. When Ben & I finally (finally) finished the guest list, we looked at all of your names and got a little lightheaded. It was surreal and wonderful.

I feel bad for people who don't have friends and family as awesome as we do. But I try not to feel too bad for too long, because whoa--that's a whole mess of people. Hell, it's most of the world. Our enormous good luck to have each other, and to have you, is not lost on us. Each of you has helped us become who we are--as individuals, and as a couple. Hopefully you are already aware of this. If not, then you should say something, because that means that we have clearly been going about this all wrong.

It's no secret that Ben & I love a challenge--so it naturally follows that we end up being challenging people. More often than not, we want the best from people, even when we're at our worst. And so here you are--the people who have seen each of us rise to a challenge to best our best, and fall on our faces at our worst, and you're still here. Still here to hold a shaky hand, to snap a photo, to turn the music up. There to answer the phone when you're several time zones away, to stay up until all hours of the night to talk about nothing. To walk beside us on new adventures: to jump up when our favorite song comes on, to shout with excitement at thousand-pound bears, to swim with summer fish in a hidden pond, to sing power ballads after one am, to wander wet streets and ride roller coasters and work and pound our fists and camp under 500-year-old trees and trek through snow and keep searching for the best--of everything, and more often than not finding it in each other. To laugh and rail and argue and cry and hug and be your best selves. Your support and friendship has helped shape our lives, has molded Ben and I into two people whose hearts beat in rhythm, whose lives together make something complete and whole. There is no unit to measure this kind of love.

Does a custom-made, graphically unique invitation appropriately show gratitude to a person for being who they are? I doubt it. How about playing a little sweet music and writing a few sweet words? Seems unlikely. What about sharing the day that two people come together to build a brand new family? I think that's a start. Gratitude to me is about reciprocity and persistence. We try to show it, and fail, and try again, and I think in a lifetime of trying we start to get somewhere close.

"Stars, hide your fires!
These here are my desires
And I will give them up to you this time around
And so, I'll be found
With my stake stuck in this ground
Marking the territory of this newly empassioned soul!"