Saturday, February 20, 2010

Two sides, one coin

Tonight, I went to the theater. And as remarkable as the show was, the most important dramatic moments happened in my mind. As it turned out, I sat between my friend Millie, whom I've known less than a year, and my favorite ex-boyfriend Stuart, whom I've known for more than 20, but with whom I've had almost no contact since 1994.

During the second act, it hit me: these two people, these two precious friends, know me as two different people. Stuart knew me when the tough parts of my life played out in secret. Let's not talk about the struggles of bulimia or scrapes that require legal representation or any of a myriad of other horrible facets of me at the time; as long as it's dressed up in a pretty package - as long as the world still sees me as a Good Girl - it's all good.

After he and I lost touch (which happens a lot, post-breakup) I began a very different journey, and one that landed me where I am today. The woman Millie knows is a college graduate, an accomplished cook, and someone who makes her mistakes out loud. Today, I'm a bit of a wild child (a hard-earned title, to be sure) and I consistently seek out joy, whereas in the past, I waited for it to find me.

I've become a person who has traveled to Singapore, been married and divorced, learned to make incredible margaritas, and discovered the importance of looking at life as an adventure. I wondered, for a moment there in the second act, whether or not Stuart and I would be friends if we'd just met. I honestly don't know, but the truth is, it doesn't really matter. There's so much water under so many bridges, and the only really important thing is that we've forgiven the past hurts and reached a place where we can just enjoy one another's company.

So I sat there, thinking about how I'm one person to the woman on my left, and another entirely to the man on my right, and it hit me: Nah, not really. I'm still me. I'm still authentic Maggie, or Margaret, or Mugs. I'm still the same person I've always been, deep down. Today's version is a little more brash, a lot more accepting of others, much more honest and way more comfortable with herself, and that's the important distinction. Because this is me, right now, today.

And I think she's pretty cool.

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