To Gandalf, My Would-Be Bridesman
I’d graduated college before I knew you existed. With little money to spare the weeks before I moved to South Korea, a friend recommend my small book budget go to The Lord of the Rings.
It seemed like good bang for my buck and, beside, I had a crush on its recommender. So I went for it.
I loved you pretty much instantly. I’ve always found wisdom attractive, more so even than humor (also appealing) and ripped abs (which aren’t especially important to me, actually, no matter what check-out line magazines suggest).
I mourned your encounter with the balrog. I told one of my roommates the same, prompting him to laugh before spoiling the whole thing for me. It was a feat not to throw him over our seventh-floor balcony then, but I figured doing so wouldn’t be very Gandalf-like. Also, I wasn’t keen on the thought of spending time in South Korean prisons.
Mostly it was the former that stayed my hand. Really!
I moved back home before long, excited but a little nervous by the prospect of soon watching you come to life on the screen. I wasn’t sure any actor could do you justice, but, man, wouldn’t it be rad if Ian McKellen could? I was willing to give him a shot.
He was perfect.
I mean, I guess some could argue “perfect” is subjective, but really. He conveyed you exactly as I’d imagined you, and it was magic.
(Oh, yeah, I did.)
My fondness for you grew with each film. I came to love Samwise greatly, too, all the more after mutual love led to a still-treasured friendship, but you continued to hold the fondest place in my heart.
Perusing forums online one dark and stormy evening my last year of law school, I found someone else who had a Gandalf icon.
“OMG, you love Gandalf?!?!?!?!?!” I said, maybe not in those exact words.
“OMG, you love Gandalf?!?!?!?!?!” its poster said, maybe not in those exact words.
That poster, Maggie, lived in Los Angeles. I lived in Los Angeles. So we met up. Of course we did.
We had drinks at Canters and, you know, I loved you all the more. Wise, dauntless, compassionate, and also bringing good people together–what could you not do?
Before I moved to Japan, Maggie and I agreed we should meet for one more round of drinks at Canters. She asked if she could bring a friend.
That friend was ridiculous. Just ridiculous. I couldn’t stop laughing at his shenanigans.
I insta-crushed on him. But I was moving to Japan, so we traded email addresses and left it at that.
We exchanged emails while I was in Japan. When he was feeling gloomy one day, I did a goofy rain-dance for him on my town’s webcam.
I returned to Oregon before too long, assuming I’d be there for the long haul.
But the weather.
ALL RAIN, ALL THE TIME.
I admire you, Gandalf, but I don’t have your fortitude. I couldn’t handle it. I moved back down to Los Angeles.
Four years after my final pre-Japan Canters trip, I met up with Maggie and my old insta-crush, Anthony.
Four months later, Anthony surprised me with a kiss when I left his birthday party.
We were dating (and breaking up, and making up) before we knew it.
Before long, we had a beautiful child together.
He met my mom a few months before she died and, wouldn’t you know it, she loved him.
Our every single conversation in the four months between their meeting and her death involved some variation of the words, “When are you going to marry that sweet man of yours?”
“Never, if you keep asking!” I’d say crossly. What I really meant was, “Never, ever, because marriage scares the bejeebus out of me after the countless terrifying marriages, yours included, that I witnessed in childhood,” but I had to use whatever leverage I could to get her to stop asking the question.
Futile, I know. But I kept trying.
Wouldn’t you know, she’s getting her way in the end. A few more years with “that sweet man” persuaded me that not all marriage need be scary or hurtful. In fact, the more I looked at marriage, the more I saw most are a tolerable, almost endearing blend of dysfunction and joy. Not so bad, really. Certainly not as bad as the prospect of a life without that love!
Now, with just a few days left before I say “I do,” my mind keeps coming back to you.
How wild is it that you, dear Gandalf, paved the way for my meeting my very-soon-to-be husband? Granted, a million circumstances had to converge for us to not only meet but fall for each other, but you were the precondition.
Your tiny image on my screen when I was supposed to be studying law. You, leading me to a lifelong friend.
Who led me to my lifelong love.
I wish you could be at our wedding in person, but I know that’s a tall order, what with you being a fictional character and all.
Since you can’t be there in person, what I really want to say here is: You the man, Gandalf. I knew I loved you the moment I met you, but, whoa. I had no idea how much more I’d come to love you over the course of the next decade.
I’m glad all factors converged to lead me to where I’m at now. I’m glad you were a part of that.
Thanks for that, dude. (Is it OK to call you dude?) A decade later, the spell you cast on my heart is holding strong, and from what I can see, it’s just gonna keep getting stronger.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, you rock.
And thank you. Most of all, that.
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