Turning around again, one last time, that’s when she saw it. The picture of them on the fridge. How could she have been so careless to forget this? It was the picture of all pictures. The picture of them at the Yankees game on a frigid May night in 2005. Their smiles radiated clearly from the picture. Her hair was still blonde then, flowing and curly, with just the right amount of bounce. Her mousse worked that day. Some days, mousse just did not create the perfect effect. It was crunchy and stilted or frizzy. But that day Maggie got it right. Like her hair, Maggie thought she had got life right that day.
Peter was Maggie’s first boyfriend out of college. He was one of those captivating Wall Street guys. Not the assholes one usually met in bars, prowling for their next lay. Peter was a gentleman, kindhearted. He called her Maggie May. May, not being more than a middle name, was a cute addition to her name, she thought. She had always wanted a nickname. She had always wanted someone as special as Peter to give her one. And here he was: her knight in shining armor: kind, rich, handsome, and a giver of nicknames.
And he still destroyed her.
Maggie knew that she had to take the picture off the fridge. She could keep it just for a few weeks. What was the harm in that, after all? It was a wonderful moment in her life with a wonderful man. And she couldn’t get rid of it. Right?
Maggie tucked the picture in her pocket, knowing full well that it was a mistake. But she had to take it. Peter was the love of her life. And maybe, just maybe, he would come back for her. He didn’t need that other woman he didn’t bother to give a nickname. No. He needed his Maggie May. And this picture would be a reminder of their struggle, and their triumph. It symbolized everything for them.
She would always be Maggie May to him. And in her own mind.
Her nest was empty. The children had grown up; the husband had died. And she felt like she had nothing. She felt like this could be the end.
That was, until she saw a brochure for Iceland. It was a casual happenstance—just waiting for an anxiety-ridden root canal at her evil dentist’s office. But this brochure—left by some poor schmuck who probably would need it less than her—took over her mind. Her anxiety melted away for a few moments, looking at the pictures of the Blue Lagoon and Dettifoss. What beauty she saw! The landscapes! The Icelandic horses! What a wonderful place to find herself.
So she would go. She had to go. Wasn’t this a sign? After all, she had had a disastrous year. Her husband was finally taken by cancer. He’d suffered for years, and the doctors originally claimed that he would survive. But they lied. Just like everyone lies at one point or another. And he was gone—just like that. Her world was shattered and she knew that she’d never love again. Why would she? Did she even care about that? She doubted it. Her true love was gone. And she just had her children. But, of course, they flew the coop, too. Her older daughter moved to the Northeast. Somewhere in Maine. Somewhere she’d never think to visit. And her younger daughter, well, she was just starting a life of drugs and alcohol. She had tried to get her daughter into rehab before her husband died, but it was useless. She knew that her younger daughter would either come around eventually… or have the same fate as her late husband. It was just a question of when.
Here she was. Waiting on her bed. Anticipating. She was leaving tomorrow. For the trip of a lifetime. The trip that could and would save her. She just had to let it. She just had to get through these next moments before the taxi came. Well, of course and the seven-hour flight with no food at all. And then, finally, the anticipation would be over. And she would finally be free. This was the anticipation she was always seeking, always waiting for… freedom from it all.
Here she had to go.
Hear me out, as I got to thinking about kindness… and kindness to all.
I am guilty of this. I know that you are, too. We’re happy and kind and nice to strangers. We thank our waiters profusely. We laugh with the man at the checkout. We’re friendly, even if we’ve had a bad day. And when we get home, we take out that bad day on the ones we love. Why do we do this? Because they’ll always be there? Or so we think. This Lenten season, instead of giving up something, I am trying to be kinder to those I love. It means something to keep an extra smile for our favorite people. They mean something. I want to keep them in my life. And the best way to do it… be kind. Be kind and nice to strangers; and also to the ones we hold dear.
Do you find yourself spinning? Looking for more? Not having enough? I do. And I wish I could stop.
Yes, this might be pessimistic. So what? That’s how I feel. I feel I sense of unhappiness and darkness come January 1st. It is my least favorite day of the year. But then January 2nd comes. And January 3rd. And pretty soon, we’re into February, then March. And the darkness fades. That’s what I remember on January 1st. The darkness isn’t lasting. There is light–literal and figurative–at the end of the tunnel. And you know what? I think that makes me pretty damn optimistic. It’s all about how you get out of the darkness. Know that.
So Happy New Year! I can’t wait until Spring.
Should I keep the peace or stand up for myself?
What if everything you’ve been fighting within yourself is actually how you’re supposed to be? What if the person you know is actually the person you’re supposed to leave? What if you’re not supposed to fight these battles? Maybe these aren’t battles. Maybe this is you. Maybe you should just fight for YOU.