They met when they were toddlers; and very different toddler characters, they were. Mack was quiet, physical, and sporty. Maggie was talkative, dainty, and artistic. But their parents were friends and would soon become Springfield family, and so these toddling happy girls were destined to be linked together. Oh, but never mind that the start of their friendship was engineered by their parents. Never mind that they were so dissimilar. Those little girls were fast friends for fun, alacritous allies in mischief, and fierce and faithful champions of each other. Although their membership in our Springfield family of close friends was a given, M & M existed on a best-friend spiritual plane of their own making, and they forged their forever bond with each other on their own unique terms.
Together, Mack and Maggie were soccer teammates on the Fireballs, enthusiastic consumers of Thai food, and co-conspirators in epic kitchen messes, which sometimes resulted in edible cookies but mostly just ended with flour fights, colorful frivolity, and cherished memories of time spent with each other. Together, they paid homage to middle school fashion by sporting side bangs and skinny jeans, were confidants about boyfriends and girl drama, adopted each other’s pets as their own, kept each other’s secrets under tight lips and behind poker faces, and shared a smart sense of sarcasm and zany humor, with no end of inside jokes between them. Apart, Mack and Maggie attended different elementary schools, engaged in vastly dissimilar extracurricular activities, and attended to different personal interests and priorities. Yet they always made time for each other, made a habit of lunch dates at Taste of Thai (their favorite restaurant), and frequently schemed up opportunities for engaging together within their overlapping but varied circles of friends.
Much of the bond between M & M was in their hearts for only the two of them to see, but as a mother who watched them grow from six-year-old Fireballs into brilliant and beautiful young women, I think I know something of their friendship. First, I attribute their forever connection to acceptance and unconditional love. They took each other at face value, as they were, never judging or reprimanding when one of them made a poor decision, never pressuring the other to meet somewhere in the middle of the differences between them. Instead, they always preferred to provide unyielding and unquestioning support to each other and to be comfortable in any differences that might otherwise separate them. Yet I also think they viewed each other from a unique perspective, vastly different from all of their other friends. For example, to Maggie, Mack was Mackenzie; and to Mack, Maggie was Margaret. It was almost as if they took each other more seriously, respecting each other for what they would ultimately be capable of as adults when they left nicknames and their childhood homes behind them.
Second, these two girls each possessed an infectious affinity for childhood, each ever embracing her inner Peter Pan. Together, they were professional finders of fun in even the simple and mundane activities of life, like drinking sodas after school or trekking to Walgreens to buy junk food. When Maggie turned nineteen in 2012 just weeks after the girls had moved away to college (both in Missouri), Mack tweeted: “How the fuck is @maggieerickson 19? Can we just be 6 again please?” And Maggie was equally annoyed at being so old. But Mack & Maggie were both committed to keeping childhood with them into young adulthood and beyond; and that shared affinity was made all the more powerful an influence in their lives because they had shared childhood together. This past December, Maggie graduated from the University of Missouri, and I know exactly what Mack would have said to her: “How the fuck are you a college graduate? Can we just be 6 again please?”
Perhaps somewhere in the ostensible contradiction between their adult-level of respect for each other and their shared affinity for childhood fun is a useful clue for all of us about how to forge friendships that really matter. The friendship between M and M, Mack and Maggie, and Mackenzie and Margaret was truly one for an eternity. Mack was a brilliant collector of best friends; and her best friendship with M-Maggie-Margaret is another beautiful testament of her gifts in that regard.
Oh, how I wish that these girls were six-years-old again, and that we could all relive those wonderful Springfield years together.