Sunday, July 17, 2016
Andrea and Rami led me to the kitchen and asked me to officiate their wedding. That was over a year ago at my sister’s house in Porter Ranch. Just like that!
"You are the one we both unhesitatingly chose. You’re not just an uncle to us, you’re a very close friend." they said.
I mulled it over, did the math (which I’m terrible at) and reached the conclusion that it was doable. Difficult but doable. I could make it to Los Angeles for their big day on July 16th, 2016.
“I’d be honored!” I exclaimed.
So it came about that I got myself ordained as a minister and showed up sober and all dressed up in a suit and tie right on time on a beautiful beach in Malibu.
It was a simple ceremony of charming elegance. In the shade of an old tree, flanked on both sides by handsome groomsmen and gorgeous bridesmaids, the three of us stood. Friends and family sat on lawn chairs. The ocean waves lapped softly. A light breeze carried the notes of a guitar. The player and I momentarily exchanged glances. It was time to start.
On March 13th 2013, Andrea and Rami stumbled into each other’s life on Tinder. Two days later, on a Friday, and after a barrage of text messages, they went out on their first date.
Despite the mellowing effect of drinking two glasses of wine earlier, Andrea was still nervous. Rami, his heart racing, was anxious that the girl he had promised to literally pick up, turns out heavier than he had imagined her to be.
A few heartbeats after they both emerged from the shadows of the unknown, however, her worries melted in his Mediterranean blue eyes, while he was blown away by the lightness of her grace.
During dinner and in the ensuing time since, they fell in love over and over again, the profound kind of love, the one that draws its nourishment from the innermost folds of the soul and transcends physical attraction and the compulsiveness of youth.
"We complement one another, each with our own individuality, yet with just enough overlap to make it a seamless fit." Rami told me.
"He is not a person that you meet everyday. He is the kind of special that every woman dreams about but can never find. Well, I guess I am definitely the lucky one, because I found him." Andrea said.
The way Rami looks at Andrea conjures an image of a wanderer in a vast desert. He drinks her with his eyes as if his very survival depends on it. She, in return, takes his face in as if to etch his features on the wall of her memory, to connect the dots with the tips of her fingers like Braille in the darkness of his absence.
Every time I see them, every time, my mind invariably drifts to “Letters to Véra”, by Vladimir Nabokov, and when they asked me to officiate their wedding, I was more than honored and I knew exactly what I was going to read on this enchanting evening.
Vladimir began writing to Véra, his wife of over half a century, the day after they met in 1923 and continued to do so until his final hours. I dug up a copy of the Letters and found the passages I was looking for. It’s Andrea’s and Rami’s primal and instinctive need for each other that is so well conveyed in these words. I’m very pleased to share them with all of you.
Yes, I need you, my fairy-tale. Because you are the only person I can talk with: about the shade of a cloud, about the song of a thought — and about how, when I went out to work today and looked a tall sunflower in the face, it smiled at me with all of its seeds.
How can I explain to you, my happiness, my golden wonderful happiness, how much I am all yours — with all my memories, poems, outbursts, inner whirlwinds? Or explain that I cannot write a word without hearing how you will pronounce it — and can’t recall a single trifle I’ve lived through without regret — so sharp! — that we haven’t lived through it together — whether it’s the most, the most personal, intransmissible — or only some sunset or other at the bend of a road — you see what I mean, my happiness?
I simply want to tell you that somehow I can’t imagine life without you…
I love you, I want you, I need you unbearably…
Your eyes — which shine so wonder-struck when, with your head thrown back, you tell something funny — your eyes, your voice, lips, your shoulders — so light, sunny…
You came into my life — not as one comes to visit … but as one comes to a kingdom where all the rivers have been waiting for your reflection, all the roads, for your steps.
Friends and family of Andrea and Rami,
These two beautiful people have entrusted me with joining them in marriage. To them I say, hold on to your precious love, no matter what, forever or until the end of time, whichever comes last.
After Andrea and Rami exchanged vows and brought tears to all eyes, I continued...
Rami, is Andrea the one that you will dedicate your entire life to, to be with lovingly and faithfully, through difficulty and success, day in and day out, as her rock, her shoulder to lean on, her best friend, her biggest fan and inspiration, her protector and her partner, on this day and forever?
Andrea, is Rami the one you envision yourself spending the rest of your life with, in joy and in laughter, through the effortless times and the difficult ones, cheerfully and supportively, with no limit to the love you possess for him, as his best friend, his life partner and inspiration, today, tomorrow and for as long as you live?
By the power of love, I now pronounce you husband and wife. Rami, you may kiss Andrea now and everyday thereafter.