This is my favorite new picture for so many reasons beyond it's charming but obvious poor quality. I mean...the shades of orange are priceless, but I digress. No, it is my favorite because of the sweet, clear face of my Mags.
We spent much of middle school --well, ALL of middle school-- in a place she didn't fit. For various reasons, her own and others, she was a bit of a misfit. Fabulous friends and families (Mama Wright) gave her a space to finally belong and my love for them and their warmth remains boundless.
But, the middle school experience as a whole? Not a charmer. She wore make up like a mask which I didn't love, but I was more concerned with making a study of the whys and a plan for the long haul than reacting to each and every moment. Was that the right call?--Eh, who's to say. Many would give themselves the right to say, I imagine. But the view from the cheap seats is a simpler one than the view from the battlefront and therein lies the reason we never invite the peanut gallery to comment.
Through luck, hard work, the intervention of angels, prayer (so, so, so MUCH prayer), God's grace and the message of the spirit whispered in ears we couldn't reach, we found ourselves blessed beyond measure last summer to be scooped up in a strangely expeditious manner, dumped at the other end of Highway K on a little tiwn called Cottleville in Missouri and finally landed strangers in a strange land at a new high school.
Maggie took with her into this new space the love of the people who mattered to her and found the grit to move on.
For three solid weeks I watched her like a hawk. Like a mama bear. Are they going to ostracize her? Are they going to not let her sit at the lunch table? Are they going to make her feel like she needs to be foul to be relevant, to feign a strange and sad adolescent promiscuity in a bid to be popular, or would she just continue to wear the armor she so dutifully donned in 5th grade? An armor I would respect, but oh how I longed to see her have enough faith in herself to shine as bright as she did to me.
For three weeks she was wary. "Mom. Everybody is just so NICE ."
For three weeks she was skiddish.
"Like, Mom? Remember how at North it meant people liked you if they called you names? Like... nobody calls people names here. And if they like you, they show it by being nice to you."
For three weeks she didn't trust anything about this new, exotically friendly place.
Then one day I said, "You know. It's almost as if you can put the armor down."
And little by little, pieces came off. Nothing needed to guard the heart. The knuckles, the head, the back.
Today, it isn't as if a magical transformation of teenagers has taken place. People are still strange and awkward. She runs up against people who aren't people she would choose. Some people are glorious and loyal, some not as much. That's high school. That's life.
We laugh a little to think we are where we are. She affectionately calls it her "new boujee school" and suddenly brand names are on our radar more than they ever were before. We still shop at thrift stores, but we're looking for the brand names now. As for her not brand name things, she says her goal is always to have her own style in school.
She says, "When you can thrift shop and still be the best-dressed girl in the room? That's the best."
I love this girl. Deep down in my heart and my toes and my skin, I love this girl. And every morning when we wait in the loooooooooog line on Highway 94 to get in the only ONE entrance to Francis Howell, I thank God for the blessings of faith. I think of how much I prayed for a way to get her to higher ground. How I never in a MILLION years would have imagined the answer would come in it's time from directions we could not even foresee.
One of my favorite pieces of encouragement comes from Rilke and states, "Don't search for the answers now because you would not be able to live them... live the questions now. Then one day you will live your way into the answer."
And this answer. It's written all over this sweet, clean, fresh, open face. In all that time, through the trials and conversations, through the prayers and the silent, invisible, but unwavering support of her own angels, she became...