August 20, 2005
A Wedding of Friends

I was supposed to be in the above picture today. Two of my friends got married in Birmingham, England. I wish them every ounce of happiness possible.

I didn't attend for a multitude of complicated reasons. The decision was made months ago, but when the day arrived, I found myself feeling sad for missing the event. But I know it was the right thing to do.

First off, let me explain how I know these people. Back in the day that internet was completely new and email was a strange medium, there was a message board dedicated to the TV Show 'Friends'. Very common now, but back in 1995, was a very new idea. As happened with the technology then, the message board 'broke' one day. One of the girls still wanted to keep in touch with a few of the people and sent an email asking if we would keep in correspondence. That day, the 'BP' was born. There were roughly 30 of us. We have kept in daily contact for nearly 10 years. There have a been a few departures, but very few inductions in to the group and for all intents and purposes, those same 30 people have shared in the joys and pain a decade can be. We come from all parts of the world, although I'm the only one living in Canada. There are a bunch on the East Coast, quite a few in England, one in Scotland, one in Australia, and one in Israel. Our jobs are all over the place too, from high level government in DC, to rocket scientist to electrician and school teacher. Two even have blogs here and here.

People often wonder about meeting people they meet 'on the internet'. The group in the UK met early on, at the taping of a TV show featuring the cast of Friends. Two of them saw that special spark, and were married a couple of years after. In 1997, when I was returning from Europe, I met them in a pub in London. At the time, I was ill with pneumonia and did not make a good impression. I was nervous and to this day, feel bad about making them come out to meet me (some even had to endure several hours of travel) when I really wasn't well enough to be out.

In 1999, at the urging of the groom in the above, I travelled to the wedding of one of the girls in Washington, DC. I was so apprehensive travelling that day to meet people that for all intents and purposes, I had never met. Sure, we'd all corresponded for 4 years but I was going to be spending a week with these people all by myself! I was met by a very bubbly, very happy girl from Utah whose smile set me right at ease. The rest of the week was up there with the best highlights of my life. Not only did we all attend a fantastic wedding, but the rest of us bonded deeply. We visited the touristy sights of DC and even up to New York, all the while marvelling at the odds that brought us all together. And well, I found that 'spark' as well on that trip.

The next two years, I travelled to see these friends. To Australia. To England, twice. To San Francisco. To Vegas. I spent the Millenium in Northern England in the living room of one of the sweetest people I ever hope to know, the girl to the right of the bride and the 'best man' in today's ceremony.

We all chatter daily through email. There are ups and downs. With any close group, sometimes we get along, and well, sometimes we don't. It has become a family of sorts, and I feel so deeply close to this group of people that I can't imagine them not being in my life.

The 'spark' I found in 1999 was someone I still feel a great deal for, but I know we never had what it took as a couple. We tried hard, but as the two year mark came up, it became very obvious to me that it was not meant to be. Of course, I thought the world of him and it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do to tell him how I felt. I know I hurt him that day, and I still harbour a lot of guilt for it. I wish I had handled it differently but what was done, was done.

The difficulty I found was after that. I stayed with the group. I often felt ostracised, whether I was or not, as the group rallied around him. I often wondered if I should have stayed but these were my friends too, I told myself. There were comments that often stung me over the next few years, and a couple of times I was forced to quietly walk away for a bit to gain perspective. I always came back though. As for he and I, we forged a quiet friendship after a very hurtful time behind the scenes. We talked through a lot of what went wrong, and were working on regaining our friendship.

Then he met someone. That someone was part of the group as well. She was also a friend. It was harder than I expected it to be. They told me privately, which I appreciated but told the group within a couple hours. I barely had time to process. A couple of the people within the group recognized the situation as somewhat uncomfortable, and were sympathetic, but for the most part, what we had was long dead for them and didn't bear thought.

As you might have guessed, it's the couple in the wedding. Many friends were there yesterday, but I knew it would have been wrong of me to go. That even though they had moved on with everything, and I had as well, there was still uneasyness. He's my first ex-boyfriend ever to marry. It definitely stirred something that I thought was at peace, but looking at the pictures , I realized that I made the right decision not to go. Even if it meant not having a chance to see all my friends in one place. It was right. For him and for me. This was his day.

I congratulate them both. I hope from the bottom of my heart that their future is filled with nothing but brightness.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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