A poem dedicated to my father

The First Man I ever Loved РDedicated to my father 

The first man I ever loved is the strongest man I know. When he speaks everyone in the room stops to listen. His voice is like a lullaby when the world is too loud and his chest is the softest pillow I have ever felt.

The first man I ever loved could once scoop me up and carry me around, his arms the safest place to hide, his heart the safest place to land. Too big now to be cradled, he still carries me when I’m at my weakest.

The first man I ever loved wears work boots battered and worn and pants in desperate need of patches, shirts with holes the size of your thumb but he would gladly take that very shirt off of his back and hand it to anyone in need.

The first man I ever loved is always the hardest worker in the room, the last one to leave, and when I feel alone, he’s always standing in my corner, often silent, but always there. When I stumble, it’s his arm that I feel holding me up first, and when I feel like I am going to fall on my face, it’s his embrace that keeps me from hitting the ground.

The first man I ever loved has a laugh that can shake the sadness out of you and a smile that convinces you the world may not be so bad.

The first man I ever loved is as stubborn as they come. He has the biggest heart that’s his best kept secret. There isn’t a thing he wouldn’t do for his family, forgetting whatever they may have done to him. He loves his wife and his daughters more than himself, and you can see it whenever you get a good look at him. Get a good look at him.

The first man I ever loved was not the last. But he was the one that taught me to love. Because of him I know how I should be loved. Fully, completely, as if I am their whole world because when he looks at you, you are his whole world.

-CM

Coming soon – The First Woman I Ever Loved (Dedicated to my mother)

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Dear …

When I was in High School, I remember this one assignment from my English teacher in which we were asked to write a letter to someone we loved and also to someone we were mad at. We were to write it with no intent of this person ever reading the letter – and while originally the assignment seemed ridiculous – it was actually extremely therapeutic. I encourage you to assign yourself this task. Take a minute to think of that one person who made you really angry or hurt you really badly, and write them a letter they will never see. Or think of the one person you love more than anyone else in this world, and write them a letter describing every little thing that draws you to them – they don’t ever have to read it.

For today’s post, my letter is to my middle school self.

Dear 13 year old me,

There is no denying that you are different from your classmates. Don’t even try to fit in, because I’m sorry, but you weren’t born to. You are never going to fit the mold and you are going to learn eventually that for you, that’s a very good thing.

Ignore the bullies. I know how hard this is when they won’t leave you alone and seem to come from every side, but just ignore them. What your parents keep telling you is true; they are just jealous of something you have. Either that, or something is wrong for them at home and for some reason, they have picked you as their target to release the anger that causes. None of this makes it right, but it’s not personal. You are better than them anyway, and one day soon you are going to see this for yourself.

Use the medicine the doctors prescribed to you for your acne. Just use it. It takes two minutes and you’ll thank me later. Just do it.

Stop worrying about the friend’s that back stab you or treat you like a second choice; don’t give them a second thought. Focus on the one girl who has never faltered and who has always been there. You know who I’m talking about. Trust me, in just a few short years it’s going to be very clear who your true friends are and all of this time spent trying to get old friends back is going to seem like a waste of time. You will go to many lengths to keep friends, and that’s what makes you so good, but not everyone will do the same for you. You don’t need those people.

Stop arguing with your sisters so much over the tiniest of problems. Yes, I know, it’s easy to argue, but they are your sisters and you’ll always have them around. When it seems like you have no one else, these girls are always going to have your back. Don’t take them for granted.

Stop. Yelling. At. Your. Parents. Trust me. When you’re out living on your own, it’s your mom and dad that are going to be answering the phone at nine o’clock at night to hear you ramble and answer your ridiculous questions, no matter how stupid. So just stop. They are doing their best, and they don’t deserve it. You are very lucky to have such amazing parents.

Stop focusing on the family that doesn’t spend time with you, and focus on the ones that do. You have amazing people in your life. The people that don’t want to be their don’t matter.

Don’t beat yourself up about math class. You’re not going to get any better throughout High School, and that’s okay. You excel in other classes, focus your energy there. You will pass math class, it will be okay. Don’t stress about it so much.

Have fun. Don’t worry about looking silly. These years are going to fly by so fast and you’re going to wish you had taken another minute to swing on the playground and play tag with your friends. Savor these moments before they are gone.

Love,

Me

Sisters, Biological and Other

Anybody who knows me, knows I’m the middle child of three girls. It’s not exactly something I keep a secret, being the middle child irritated me for the longest time. Growing up, it seemed no matter what happened, I was always in the middle. My older sister got things first, my younger sister got things last, and I just…well I just existed. This isn’t a new realization. Middle children have been screaming their battle cries for decades. There is a reason we are commonly known as the most outspoken, the loudest. We have fought our whole lives for a spot in our own families, it isn’t hard for us to fight for a spot in the world as well.

As I grew up, however, it became less important to me where I ranked in the birth order of my siblings, and more important that I even had them. My sisters, biological and other, have been my best friends since the minute I was born. Well, in my younger sisters case, since the minute she was born. Our house has always been full of estrogen, arguments fueled by hormones, and way too much clothes. The smell of perfume has always been suffocating, and nothing is just yours unless you write your name on it. Even then, ownership is risky.

Having sisters means always having a friend. And whether this is a cliche or not, it’s an undeniable truth. I can’t preach about the amazing life of having a brother, as many do. When I was younger, having a big brother was something I dreamed about endlessly, picturing a protective figure, someone who always had my back while also making my life a living hell with his teasing and harmless jokes. Instead though, I found this in cousins, in uncles, and in my father. Every gap I thought existed was filled in one way or another, my sisters and I forming a small group of soldiers that were a force to be reckoned with.

Since the youngest sister was born, our band has been known as the Three Elles. A title given to us fondly for the ending of all of our names. It was always a given however, that when you saw those three blonde heads in the crowd, there was always a certain brunette to be found somewhere close by. Another sister, not biological, but to me just as important. Us four, we are the ocean, and no matter where we wander, how far apart we may float, when one of us needs the other, our waves will come crashing down in unison.

Families, siblings, they are essential, and each bond is unique, something that can’t be explained in mere paragraphs. For me, these bonds would take novels to even brush the surface of the love I feel for each person in my tiny army. My wonderful parents would need trilogies all to themselves, a story for another day. However, as this tiny circle starts to grow, adding brother in laws, significant others, nephews and nieces, there isn’t a single thing in this world I am more thankful for than my tiny little army. Sisters, biological or other.

Living in the North

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I have traveled half way across the United States by car, and I still haven’t found a place that bewilders me as much as my own home has. I’ve traveled to Hawaii and swam in the expansive ocean, tasted a tiny bit of adventure, however I am still left speechless upon returning to my own state.

Born and raised in the middle of nowhere Northern Vermont, I was a child yearning to leave the dirt roads and small towns far behind her as soon a she was handed a High School diploma. However, three years later, and I am still here, still driving the same half an hour into civilization every day, still breathing the same mountain air, and many people ask me why.

For those who have never been to Vermont, the allure of such a state can seem absurd. The winters are freezing, the summers are undecided, spring time is messy, and the fall seems to be the only real selling point for the few weeks (sometimes mere days) that the leaves are in full color and presenting themselves under the right sunlight. We do see our fair share of tourists – mostly leaf peepers, skiers, and snowboarders. There are the few owners of summer lake houses who flee the hotter southern climates for the North in the summer months and return home during our winters. But to live here, and actually enjoy every moment of it, seems rather crazy to every person I have had the pleasure of explaining myself to.

It is not just the beauty that keeps me returning. There are plenty of beautiful states I have seen and some I haven’t, and I am sure beautiful countries I have not had the pleasure of stepping foot on just yet. Beauty is abundant in our world and not hard to come across. I have been blown away by black sand beaches in Hawaii, and left speechless by the sunsets in Mississippi. I have felt the pulsing life of New Orleans running through me and felt so alive I wasn’t sure death could even be real. So while the beauty of Vermont is not the only thing that keeps me coming back, it sure is one of the reasons.

 

There are small things that I love about every season that may not make sense to some. The winter is harsh and often unforgiving, but beyond beautiful and breathtaking. The first snow almost always brings a tear to my eye, especially when the sun hits the untouched surface just right, and the world looks so incredibly pure for just a moment.¬†Winter also brings Christmas, and all of the small town spirit with it. Dirt roads are suddenly lit on every side by gleaming red and green lights and singing erupts along the streets for days as Christmas draws nearer. When the Holiday’s are not near, winters still have a unique spirit in Vermont that rings clear.

 

 

 

Spring may be my least favorite season, but it still has a special place in my heart. I only enjoy it least because the snow begins to melt, and along with it the special spirit we enjoyed for a couple beautiful months. But with spring also comes the blooming of flowers, and like an awakening, people begin to emerge into the sunlight again that you may not have seen much of for most of the winter. Shops bring in new product, windows are all opened, and the smell of mud fills your nostrils whenever you leave paved road. Four wheeling and dancing in puddles is a favorite pass time for me this time of year.

In Vermont, summer never decides what weather it will bring. I have enjoyed summers of intense heat for weeks, and I have experienced summers like this last one in which it’s more like an extended spring that slowly folds into fall. Either way however, the summer brings with it a charisma and joy unique to it. As kids begin to experience freedom again, their happiness becomes contagious, and it’s almost impossible not to give in and sing along with them with the sun roof open and the windows rolled down. Hair gets lighter and spirits get brighter.

Autumn is beyond a shadow of a doubt my favorite of all of the seasons in Vermont, and perhaps a fundamental reason behind why I can not bring myself to leave for too long. Not only do the falling leafs attract tourists, but they also draw me in like a magnet. As soon as Autumn arrives, there is always a shift in me, as if with the falling of the leafs, I shed something as well. Apple picking, pumpkin carving, leaf peeping, visiting corn mazes, trick or treating, walking among the changing leafs for miles with no one else around – these are only a very few of the many reasons why I can’t seem to resist the Autumns in Vermont.

However, I am afraid I was born a traveler. I have always wanted to travel, felt it deep in my bones, and as soon as I got enough money Junior year of High School, I began exploring with an eagerness I have never felt for anything else. I know that I will leave the safe and sturdy mountains of Vermont many times again and again, but I also know that they will always be here, beautifully waiting.

If you have any similar experiences with Vermont, please leave me a comment! I would also love to hear about your favorites from your home state!