I have been friends with Lea for over twenty years now. We have been there for one another through all kinds of ups and downs. We have giggled about curry farts in Saturday morning aerobics classes and laughed until we wept about the antics of our families/boyfriends/pets/mutual friends. Lea was the one who came over every single day when Sadie was a colicky baby, and held her for an hour so I could have a bath and a rest. I got on a plane from Romania to London within 3 hours of hearing that her boyfriend of may years had left her. She is Sadie's godmother. I went with her to visit her mother in a nursing home. Our lives have been linked for many years.
After years of romantic ups and downs, Lea is getting married. I honestly could not be any happier for her and Jack, her fiance. Lea and I used to have long discussions about the nature of love. Lea is a complete romantic. She always believed that there was someone special out there just for her. I said "don't be ridiculous". There are lots of people out there who could be right for you. I would say that I could fall in love with someone whom I didn't necessarily fancy if I loved their personality and intellect. Lea would say "no way - it has to be the whole package".
I would shake my head as she rejected one date after another. "Too short". "No chemistry". "Wrong shoes" .Yes, she really said that. She would shake her head as I would jump from one bad relationship to another. We finally decided that love was a little like scrabble. Some people make lots of shorter words using whatever letters they have. That's me. Others hold out for the X or the Q to put on the triple word score. That's her. Both types of play can win, but they are completely different styles.
The "Mr. Right" (her letter X) that Lea held out for did not come in the expected package. I think we both thought she would end up with someone quite different. Jack was my gardener. Lea and I used to stare out my window with our diet cokes watching him pull weeds and mow the lawn with his shirt off. He was/is gorgeous. Looks quite a lot like Jude Law. Pretty soon, Lea had Jack in to do her garden. I don't mean that euphemistically - at least not yet. Pretty soon, they were "an item".
I had heard a little about Jack's somewhat colourful past (like I'm one to talk) from his fellow gardeners, and I have to confess that I was a little concerned. I told him that if he hurt Lea, I would kill him. I meant it. Well, over the years, I have grown to love Jack and realise what a truly wonderful man he is. He is smart and worldly and both innocent and sophisticated at the same time. He is studying for an engineering degree whilst running a successful building and gardening company. He is a fabulous father who has done more for his son than I can imagine any man every doing. Most of all, he is a mench (look it up all you non-Jews), and I couldn't be happier that my dear friend is planning to spend her life with him.
What's all this to do with Hong Kong, you might ask. Well, only that Lea is in London and I am here, and I am disappointed beyond words that I am not there to plan this wedding with her. Sadly, Lea's parents aren't with us any more and I want to be both her surrogate mother as well as her friend. I want to shop for dresses and visit venues. I want to consult on menus (I have been helping her plan dinner parties for years) and argue over flower arrangements. I feel almost physically ill that I am missing all this and green with jealousy over her other friends who will be sharing this with her.
Anyway, this is a happy time for Jack and Lea and I am joyful for/with them. Neither volcanoes, blizzards nor striking air traffic controllers will keep me away from the actual wedding. I shall swim there if I have to.