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The scene is a reception hall at the local Elks Lodge. The last light of day shimmers on the snow outside. I’m standing in front of nearly a hundred people with a microphone in one hand and a typewritten speech in the other. Ian holds my glass of champagne. Slowly, I begin to speak:
Nathan is one of my oldest friends. In fact, I’ve known him so long, I can’t even remember how we met. I know it was about nine years ago when we were both in middle school and the rest is a blur. That’s how it is to be Nathan’s friend. You’re kinda just there for the ride. If you hang around him long enough, you learn that he embarks on a lot of projects. He likes to build things and tinker. And I usually end up getting dragged into them. Sometimes he wants me to learn Arkian, a language he invented. Sometimes he wants me to come sailing with him on a sailboat he converted from a canoe.
I remember a sailing trip we went on a couple years ago on Lake Powell. At the time I remember thinking that it was the worst trip I’d ever been on. For starters, there was no wind. The boat I was in had a slow leak, so we were constantly bailing. In fact, a park service boat came up and asked us if we were sinking and needed to be rescued. A thunderstorm that night collapsed our tent, sunk our boats and resurrected our fire, forcing us to put it out with sand and Gatorade. About a mile away, a park ranger was actually struck by lightning — this was no small storm. In the morning, we found that a houseboat had run aground about twenty feet from where we’d taken shelter.
Needless to say, Yannick (our other shipmate) and I were done, so we mutinied and demanded an immediate return home. We were furious. It seemed as though everything that could’ve gone wrong did. I broke my sandals, we lost not one, but both of our marine radios — it was a mess.
But through it all, Nathan was never discouraged. He saw the problems as opportunities; things to tinker with and improve upon. While I was thinking about how tired and sore and sunburned I was, Nathan was thinking about how he could seal the crack in the boat and reshape the daggerboard. For Nathan, a project is never finished. It can always be improved.
He lives his life the same way, constantly adapting, rethinking, reinventing. He’s committed. And now he’s embarking on his most ambitious project yet: his marriage to Danika. I know that he’ll bring the same determination and optimism to their future together.
As difficult as it was to get to this point, remember that the work is never over. Every day is an opportunity to build something beautiful and lasting. Together, I know that your love is watertight and that there will always be wind in your sails. Know that your friends are with you all the way and though the sailing may not always be smooth, it will always be worth it.
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I’m a writer, photographer and filmmaker in Flagstaff, AZ. When I’m not busy being a best man, you can find me in the Twitterverse where the cool kids hang out: @jonnyeberle.