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Happy Birthday, Mary Margaret!

Mary Margaret is 30 years old today!! Maggie and Jillian each wrote a little something for this special post to honor her on this special day!


From 13 to 30: A Photo Essay by Jillian

These are some of the earliest photos I have of us, from our 8th grade field trip. Left: This photo of Maggie and Mary Margaret has been in that button frame for over 15 years. Right: Maggie, MM, our friend Rebecca, and me – barefoot 😉

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Maggie, Rebecca, me, and MM wearing our orange and blue for the homecoming game! I think this was freshman or sophomore year of high school. We had so much fun hanging out in the “Big Orange Jungle,” whether our football team was state champion or not. (But they usually were.)

High school was all about passing notes. Not during class, because we usually weren’t in the same ones! But we would write a long or fancy note during class and then pass it to each other in the hall. Left: Mary Margaret was known for making pretty and uplifting notes like this one, featuring my nickname “Chilli” and several Fiddler on the Roof jokes (everyone had Fiddler on the Roof jokes in high school, amirite?). Right: I love this note from Maggie because it contains instructions for me to pass along some information to Mary Margaret later in the day. We were a three-person pony express basically.

Mary Margaret and I spent nearly every moment of our senior year together, because we both did the musical theater class and we were in rehearsals all the time. Left: Us backstage for Brigadoon. Right: Us with our friend Lauren in costume for Fiddler on the Roof. Mary Margaret had lead roles and I was choreographer for both of these – I loved getting to work with her so closely on the choreography for the songs that featured her.

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A rare Triangle photo from the set of Brigadoon!! Usually one of us is taking the picture so there aren’t actually that many of all three of us. Also Mary Margaret’s hair was AMAZING.

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The program from our final show before graduation, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with Maggie as director, me as choreographer, and Mary Margaret as costume designer. This was really the beginning of something for Mary Margaret – her ideas were so inspired, and her creations were so beautiful and innovative! She and I also performed together as fairies – I choreographed a dance for her to do with me, and she made all our costumes and did my hair and makeup (and the other fairies’) for every show. For me it was a totally magical experience, working alongside Mary Margaret to bring Maggie’s vision to life on the stage. We made a pretty great team.

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Me, our friend Wendy, and Mary Margaret wearing the costumes, hair and makeup Mary Margaret did for us as fairies in Midsummer.

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Our senior drama banquet & awards ceremony. Mary Margaret and Maggie both had more awards than I can remember, but I do remember that our peers voted to give our fairy dance from Midsummer the “best dance” award!

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Top: Our graduation party invitation. I’m so thankful Mary Margaret asked me to do a combined party with her, because I never would have had enough friends to hold one just for myself.

Bottom: Our graduation ceremony program showing the title of Mary Margaret’s commencement address, “Somewhere New.” I still remember what she talked about it, because it was so totally THE BEST. The elementary school, middle school, and high school were all next door to each other on the same street. So, as we grew up, all we had to do was “look left” to see what was lying ahead of us. Once we graduated high school, we couldn’t just look left to see the next step. But we could look all around and choose a new opportunity in any direction. That was the message of Mary Margaret’s speech. And looking back – wow, what a fitting message it was for the three of us and our friendship! We’ve each looked all around and chosen our “somewhere new.” And it’s been beautiful for all of us.

We were so proud of Mary Margaret when she went to NYU and SO EXCITED to visit her over our first college spring break. She took us to see Doubt and Avenue Q, and showed us the highlights of the city. She seemed to already know the ins and outs of New York like the back of her hand, whereas Maggie and I were just really proud of ourselves for managing our first flight without an actual grown-up. I adore the bottom right picture of MM at her desk in her dorm room on Fifth Avenue.

There are other pictures of us from the college years, on discs and drives I can’t locate at the moment. We visited all each other’s schools and saw one another at home over the summer. Mary Margaret and I helped out at Maggie’s wedding – Mary Margaret even made the wedding dress herself! We all graduated, and we all moved – Mary Margaret spent a year volunteering in East Jerusalem before returning to her beloved NYC to start her theater career. But the Triangle has stayed strong always!

Mary Margaret had to be in Israel when I got married, but she came with me to my bridal shower and a dress fitting afterwards. I was glad we got to share those special moments together!

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The Triangle really only worked because Maggie and Mary Margaret were such good friends to my sister Laura as well. Laura and I were in the same grade and together all the time – it made my life so much easier that they welcomed her, and even though I wasn’t always keen on sharing, I’m so glad Laura got to enjoy their friendship too.

In our mid twenties, when Laura went on hospice care, Mary Margaret flew down to spend time with both of us (Maggie did too, with her baby), and that tells you everything you need to know about the Triangle, in my opinion.

As soon as little Naomi was big enough to travel, it was time for a long overdue Triangle Reunion in New York. Maggie and I had been dying to see for ourselves the life Mary Margaret had built up there, from visiting her adorable Brooklyn apartment to seeing her workplaces in Manhattan and meeting one of her new(er) BFFs, Val. (The Triangle always welcomes new BFFs, there’s plenty love to go around!)

Left: Mary Margaret showing me one of the stages where she worked. Right: We went to see Kinky Boots and then out for drinks. (In case you’re wondering, Kinky Boots was SO GOOD.)

Mary Margaret has always been THE BEST at presents – here are some of my favorites. Left: The super soft scarf she knitted me. Right: A Lady Gaga-style Christmas stocking for my dogs, which says “Nike & Clio, Little Monsters.” This is actually the best gift I’ve ever gotten tbh. It hangs on that mirror year round because it’s way too good to only come out at Christmas.

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I’ve mentioned on this blog before I’m not super into holidays. But I do get super excited to see my best friends every year at Christmas!! In spite of all the busyness and the family obligations, we always make a little time for one another, and it is truly a highlight of the whole year.

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A rare Triangle photo from our last Christmas together. Mary Margaret and I were meeting Maggie’s youngest for the first time.

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The 30th picture: Maggie’s program bio from Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2005. From 13 to 30, it’s been an incredible journey. I’m really in awe of how our friendship has helped carry us from adolescence into the full, adult lives we lead now. Mary Margaret, you are a one-of-a-kind friend – at every stage of life, through every change, you’ve always been someone Maggie and I are blessed to have in our lives.

It’s been fun, guys! Thanks! And I’m so excited to continue being a witness to the life of such an extraordinary person, and to continue being a part of such a unique friendship.

I love you, Mary Margaret! Happy birthday!


Because I knew you, I have been changed for good

by Maggie

One of my favorite pieces of writing is this short poem by W. S. Merwin

Separation

Your absence has gone through me.
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

This poem is fitting for you, given your affinity for sewing. My home (and memory) is peppered with things you’ve made – my wedding dress, a baby blanket for Naomi, a pink dachshund lovey for Bethany, a pair of knitted socks, a little bag with the letter “N” stitched on it that Naomi takes with her everywhere she goes, a big bag for me. My life is filled with evidence of you – from phrases I use (“the thing about it is…”), exercise I practice (Yoga), podcasts I listen to, books I’ve read (from The Adventures of T.S. Spivet to New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton), the way I begin projects by making a list, songs I love – so many things in my life are stitched with your influence in my life.

Or to put it to music, I have felt since the first time I heard this song, that you were certainly someone who had changed my life for good.

I know it’s corny, but it’s true. And I’ve always known it. You have changed my life both for the better and for good.

I am so excited and grateful for you today.

There are so many things I wanted to do to celebrate you today.

Including, but not limited to

  • Writing and illustrating a children’s book in your honor,
  • Learning the choreography for “Sunrise Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof and making a video with Jillian about how time passes, and how great it is that we’re passing it together
  • Creating a Star Wars themed tale about your adventures living and working in New York City,
  • A video of my kids singing “Happy Birthday, Mary Margaret.” (that one might still happen! Be prepared)
  • A list of 30 things I have in my life thanks to you

Somehow, my desire to find the perfect way to honor and celebrate you has left me here – at noon on your birthday – with none of the extravagant plans I had hoped to execute in your honor past step 2 or 3 in execution, but full of gratitude for the things you bring to my life.

Rather than listing 30 of those things, I’m going to share two that are on my heart now.

  • Making Plans. I largely credit you with teaching me how to plan. Before we were friends (and I realize that at this point in our lives we’ve been friends for more than half of our lives, so I don’t have much life to compare this to), I did not realize that I could make a plan to get something I wanted in my life, take action on it, and make it happen. Maybe that is a developmental milestone that would have happened anyway, but I kind of doubt it. You made doing homework, making scrapbooks, learning music, and basically everything else – fun. Thanks to you, I realized how much I enjoyed the feeling of being prepared to do my best. I don’t think I would have stumbled upon that knowledge without you.
  • Honoring your truth. You are one of the people in the world in the blessed and cursed position of being able to do literally anything with your life. But, one of the things I’ve noticed is that when we can do anything, we are often afraid to do just what we want. If I could be a doctor, shouldn’t I be? If I could be a famous singer or actor, shouldn’t I be? What will people say if I follow that voice inside of me and do what I want to do? Is that okay? Is that good enough? But you had the courage to be honest about that when you went to college, when you moved to New York, when you decided to work in theater work full time rather than doing it “on the side.” I’m sure it’s not always been easy, but your commitment to your passion has helped me have the courage to follow my own path.

I love you, and I wish you a wonderful, happy, joyous birthday. I hope that you continue to be a presence in my life – even though we’re separated by 1,077 miles. And I hope you continue to make plans, follow your path with courage, and always know that I will be here cheering you on wherever I am!

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