Friday, May 13, 2016

Those Who Wait - Shaun and Amy

I talk too much. I know I do, and I know its something I try to work on, but its one of those faults I’ve kind of just accepted. If I have something to say I’m going to say it. But about six months ago I received a phone call that left me without a single word to say.

Myself (right) and the lucky couple.
            Shaun and Amy got engaged at the end of the last summer. He told me he was going to propose to her in the wee hours of a late night after partying in Salt Lake City. They’d been together so long I was hardly surprised. You know that feeling. It’s more of an “its about time” sort of feeling, than “oh my God I can’t believe it”. Of course I acted excited—I mean I was excited, I just wasn’t surprised.

            What happened next did surprise me. They called me this winter, with both of them on the line, which I thought was a little weird. Then they asked me a question I thought no one would ever ask me, “Will you marry us?”


            A long silence. Followed by an, “of course I will” and then an internal panic of sorts. Am I really qualified to marry someone? Why me? Why did they ask me? I just said yes, but is it too late to back out? I hung up the phone after some slightly awkward matter-of-fact conversation, and then began to process.
             I love love and I love stories, and of course I love love stories. Shaun and Amy’s is my absolute favorite. In 1999 in Gunnison at Western State the two were assigned to live in the very same dorm building. They had the same group of friends. They both loved the outdoors and did the same activities. Shaun claims they even made out one drunken night. Amy refuses to acknowledge that ever happened. Shaun was a hippy and had a pony tail. Amy wasn’t into hippy guys, or pony tails. So, they never dated.

            In their post collegiate days they both travelled extensively through Central America. Their paths hardly crossed even they both visited some of the same countries. Eventually Amy bought a house in Gunnison and opened up a hostel there. Shaun took an event-planning job in New York City. They both seemed destined for separate lives in two places that could not be more opposite than one another.

            Then Shaun got tired of the big city life. He wanted to return to the mountains. So, he did. Amy was there. And Shaun no longer had a pony tail. They started spending some time together, but everyone wrote it off as old friends hanging out—after all they’d known each other for ten years and never kissed (according to Amy). Even Amy wasn’t aware that this man could be the one of her dreams. She went so far as setting Shaun up with one of her girlfriends. Then Amy’s Mom got involved. She suggested to Amy that maybe she should go out on a date with Shaun. So she did. And Amy’s Mom was there. They watched a movie.

            Then, in classic mountain town fashion Shaun left on a month like bicycle tour of the West coast. But, this time he kept Amy close to his heart. He asked her if she wanted to go to Thailand with “a group of friends” after the trip was over. She said yes.

            When it came down to it the “group of friends” were nowhere to be found. They were headed to Thailand—alone—on a second date, with a foundation of ten years of friendship. Amy was in charge of booking the room. Ever sweet and innocent, she still wasn’t sure what Shaun’s intentions were. I mean the guy was playing it slow. She arranged for a room with two twin beds.

            That night Shaun and Amy drank every drop of liquor in the hotel mini-fridge. You can fill in the blanks for yourself from there, but its safe to say, from that point on they never got a room with two twin beds ever again.

            I told this story during the ceremony, which was held on the beach in a small town north of Cabo in Baja, Mexico. Their wedding was completely unconventional, I stood barefoot on the sand as I married them. People told stories about them as part of the ceremony. I don’t think you’re supposed to cry when you officiate a wedding, but I tell you I cried like a baby. It was hardly nerve racking, it was a beautiful moment in life, to be so close to two people who are in love and want to spend the rest of their lives together. The feeling was one of those feelings where you’re like this, this is what matters in life, and everything else is just secondary.

            Then they wed, and we partied.

This piece was originally published in today's Durango Telegraph. 

My new memoir, American Climber, is now available. 

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