I’m guessing that, for most of us, 13 years old is an age we’d prefer to have skipped. For myself, thirteen
was an all-time low in terms of everything that matters to a 13-year-old. I was as awkward as I’ve ever been in my life—the definition of “uncool” in a big, new, unfamiliar school where everyone (and I mean everyone) was cooler than I was. One of the very “coolest” was (I’ll just call her by her first name) Margaret. Beautiful, popular with girls and boys alike, huge perfect smile, huge perfect 1970’s Farrah Fawcett hair, all the right clothes and all the right accoutrement, always smiling, always surrounded by other similarly “cool” kids. Margaret was powerful, intimidating. It was easy for someone like me to dislike her on sight.
I, by comparison, was skinny, flat-chested, bad haircut, wrong clothes, good grades, well-behaved, with a face full of features too big for my face, and a mouth full of braces too big for my mouth.
Margaret and I probably spoke 10 words to each other in the three years we were in class together. Girls like her didn’t speak to girls like me. And girls like me didn’t speak to girls like her.
I didn’t like Margaret much. I envied her a whole lot. I imagined all kinds of things about how perfect she was and what her perfect life was like. I’m guessing she probably didn’t give me much thought.
Fast forward 45 years to a little Mexican beach 3,000 miles away from that small New York State town, where just one month ago one of the truly great highpoints and most unexpected surprises of my latest yoga retreat…was that Margaret was there.
Margaret. Still strikingly beautiful, still impeccably dressed, still the great smile and fabulous hair, still so at ease with people, still so popular (lol)! And so kind, so warm, so thoughtful, so fun! I couldn’t help but like her immensely on sight.
Due to coincidence, fate, or the Universe’s wild sense of humor, this woman who had held such a place of affliction for me, attended my yoga retreat last month. I was curious to see her again. Even nervous, unsure.
It’s difficult to describe—and difficult for me to understand—why meeting Margaret after all these years was so moving; why it was so healing. Was it because it confirmed that I’d finally outgrown my lack of coolness? Or because I realized I no longer care? Was it because we’d changed so much, or because we’re still so much the same as we were?
Or was it because, among all the many things my 13-year-old-self imagined about who I was and who Margaret was, I certainly never imagined us at almost-60 excitedly sharing stories about our lives over breakfast? I never imagined us laughing as we tried to salsa together on a Mexican dance floor, or sitting together at night on a beach belting out John Denver songs around a campfire.
Perhaps that’s it. What is so moving, what makes me cry happy tears—is that I could never have imagined any of that. The Universe, once again, is so much more creative than I could ever be. She always is. What other amazing surprises does She have in store? I can’t wait to see.