On Saturday the 19th of September Tenny and I were married in a small wedding ceremony in Yerevan. We had made a surprise arrival at the church on Armenia’s one and only cycle rickshaw with an entourage of bicycle activists leading and following us through the main streets of the city. After the ceremony we were back in the rickshaw for a few customary laps of Republic Square, before heading to the reception in a quiet part of town overlooking the city.
My parents came to Armenia from England, my brother from Canada and my good friends Beccy and Andy from England and Georgia respectively. It was fantastic to be with them for a couple of weeks — the last time my family was united like this was in a sunny square in Salzburg in July 2007 after I’d spent only a month or so on the road.
Many of Tenny’s family members from Iran and the USA had also made the trip to be there, as well as our friends in Yerevan. The celebration was small, simple and a huge amount of fun.
I’ve been putting off writing about it because the last few weeks have been rather emotional, to say the least. When I set off from England over two years ago, the idea of meeting my future wife on the road hadn’t escaped my dreams. Matters of love are impossible to plan for, and at times it’s been a source of great anguish to reconcile the relationship with my adventuring ambitions, which I cannot deny still play a huge role in my life.
However, we feel that we’ve done the right thing. We’ve announced our devotion and committment to each other, to ourselves and to our families and friends. Now it’s up to us to forge a life together — a prospect both daunting and exciting!
We are now planning to spend the few months until spring wading through the quagmire of post-Soviet bureaucracy to legalise and document our marriage in Armenia, and save and plan for our bicycle journey together, which we hope will begin as soon as winter begins to recede from this part of the world.
In the meantime I will be joining forces with Andy again for a couple of shorter expeditions in the local area, the first of which — an off-road mountain-bike journey through the Greater Caucasus mountains — will begin next week.
I’m sorry I don’t have much more to say about the wedding itself, but here’s why: I was saddened by some of the things that happened (and didn’t happen) in the days before and after the wedding. In particular, it was a bit of a shock to find out that large numbers of photographs of our celebration had made their way onto Facebook before Tenny and I had even returned from our hotel on the day after the wedding. This resulted in a brief flurry of messages from people I’d not heard from for years, nor honestly had ever really expected to hear from again, before the photos disappeared off the bottom of people’s Facebook’s homepages, and all fell silent.
Conversely, I’d heard nothing from many of the people who I’d considered my closest friends from back home in England. It reminded me how distant my life had become from those I left behind, and made me wonder how much I’d really succeeded when I set off with the plan to try and share my adventures with everyone back home by writing this blog.
I am disappointed at the vacuous mess that Facebook has made of social etiquette. I’m sure nobody meant to cause offence, but it’s not a good sign when people you don’t know very well see fit to publish to the world numerous unedited photos of one of the most personal days of your life. It’s a kind of frenzy, like shouting in a crowded room, to put as much of our and our friends’ and associates’ lives online as possible, but what’s the point?
Cards and messages flooded in from my older relatives and family friends who had been unable to attend, but my peer group was conspicuously silent. There was no Facebook ‘event’ for the wedding — has this become a prerequisite if you want people to remember what for you is an important date?
I feel that rather than ‘connecting people’ as they are meant to, these ‘social networks’ have largely done the opposite, reducing our perception of our friends’ lives to an endless list of status messages and dodgy photo albums, and disconnecting us from their real significance and meaning.
I don’t want to give the impression that the celebrations were ruined by this — they weren’t. It’s been a frantic and fantastic few weeks. At the end of it all, I resolved to take something positive from this small but upsetting experience — namely, that I would make sure to pay due attention to my friends’ and family’s affairs and concerns, no matter how distant they might seem to be, so as not to become guilty of being distracted from what really matters.
Or maybe I’m just being over-sensitive. What do you think?