Happy New Year! I like the mustache. Maddie has told you how these letters work, right? So I’ll just dive right in.
The very first thing I learned about Maddie was her very firm opinion on mason jars. Has she told you this story? Even if she hasn’t, I’m sure you can guess where this is going. We were at Abby and Rachel’s basement apartment in Georgetown. It was August, maybe? Before we started book club. I’d been hearing about the other Madeleine for a few months. I was intimidated, even more so when I met her–your girlfriend is nothing short of a knockout–and really hoping she’d like me.
We started talking about weddings. Maddie, leaving no room for discussion, started shouting, “No mac and cheese bar at my wedding! You want mac and cheese, go to a Boston Market! This will be a country club wedding. Absolutely no mason jars.” As someone who personally likes mason jars, I wasn’t so much offended as intrigued. “Here,” I thought, “is a person with conviction.” I’d never seen anything like it: a woman, unapologetic in her opinions, who didn’t want mason jars at her wedding!
I don’t have many opinions. Did you know that I’m the middle child of 5? With that many siblings and a mother who is perpetually late, you have to be flexible. I was raised to be polite and do as I was told. I didn’t start to have my very own opinions about things until I was 22 so I’m a little late to the game. I’d never given much thought to what I wanted to be when I grew up, I just figured I’d grow up and someone would tell me what to do.
For as long as I’ve known her, Maddie has known what she wants, whether its from her career or her expectations for the stemware at her wedding. I’ve repeatedly asked Maddie to tell me what to do with my life and she keeps insisting that I’ve got to figure it out for myself. I think I keep hanging around, hoping that even a fraction of her certainty will rub off on me.
I was there at the finish line when she finished her first ten mile race. I was training for the Avon 39 myself so I woke up at 4 AM to walk the ten miles from Columbia Heights to downtown Alexandria. I couldn’t run the race with her and I hadn’t made a sign and I couldn’t even guarantee she’d see me. I fought my way to a fence and stood there for twenty minutes, hoping I hadn’t missed her.
Hers was the first face I saw when I crossed my own finish line, a few weeks and forty miles later. I had wanted to quit so badly–I had even started to around mile 7 of the final 13–but I didn’t and when I made it to the other side, I started crying because I’d finished and I was wet and tired and hungry and my aunt had died and I’d asked her to be there and she showed up.
I’m not going to give you the shotgun and shovels talk because, let’s be real, there are few people alive I’d like to upset less than Eric Overturf. And I’m not going to warn you against breaking her heart because Maddie is stronger than the both of us combined and can look after her own heart.
I’ve seen Maddie fall in love. I’ve seen her have her heart broken. I’ve seen her cry. I’ve seen her pull herself together and move on and grow. I’ve seen her yell about mason jars. She is a force of nature.
When she came home for that funeral in November, I was glad that you came with her. I didn’t think I’d see her fall for someone so hard or soon after Wade but I’m glad, if she was going to fall for anyone, it was someone who shows up.
You showed up at the right time. Just keep showing up.
The Other Madelyne