Okay. So, first post as Amelia Marjerison–Dirigo Adventures. Exciting stuff!

I want to write about what feeds my soul. Although simple and most likely seen as a nuisance, dirt is awesome. But regardless, I think it makes up part of my essence because Dirt has been a part of my childhood.

From a baby, to toddler, and to pre-pubescent, awkward kid, to teenager, and now as a young adult, I can never run away from Dirt. As a kid, a parent’s job is to keep you safe. So that meant keeping dirty things out of my mouth, keeping me clean, and healthy. But, my parents never saw Dirt as something gross.

I would have my Mom turn on the sprinkler in the backyard of our old house, and lift up big rocks and push them with all our might out of the way. This revealed a patch of dirt. Sprinkler plus dirt? Mud bath!

But Dirt wasn’t just something in a mud bath. Dirt followed me back into the house, through the kitchen, up the stairs, and into the bathroom where my Mom hosed me off. And after we thought I was sparkling clean; dried mud would hide in all the nooks and crannies.

At the watchtower atop Mount Kineo

Dirt followed me everywhere. It hitched a ride with me on the soles of my shoes as I marched into school, ran out to the playground, and would sprinkle off on the carpet as I dozed during read-aloud time.

When my parents decided to move from South Portland to Yarmouth, I was in kindergarten. Rolling up my bedroom rug, Dirt snuck a ride to Yarmouth with us. And when I unrolled my rug at the new house, my old, familiar Dirt from my past adventures was embedded, comforting me and reassuring me that I would fit in in a new town.

Over the years, I got more and more acquainted with my old friend, Dirt. I would dig around in the soil and under rocks, searching wildly for salamanders, worms, and any other teeny little critter I could find. Dirt witnessed the genuine excitement when I held my first salamander as it clung to my hands while slithering around, and I stared in complete fascination.

But as I got older, I started seeing my friend Dirt a little less often. Kind of like a long distance relationship, we only met up every once and awhile.

While Dirt tried to stick with me, I scrubbed every bit of it away with the intensity only an anxious perfectionist could possess. My walls got stripped down and the paint got lonely– fearing Mr. Clean magic erasers. I vacuumed with the energy of a housewife in an old television show. My room was immaculate and sparkled like the sun reflecting on the water.

Dirt and I were on a hiatus and I didn’t even realize it. Like a bad friend, I had gotten too preoccupied with other things that I forgot about my old friend all together.

But in January of 2021, a reunion happened in the Monteverde highlands. I signed up for a program in Costa Rica for two months. Quarantining in the high cloud forest, we lived on an isolated, organic farm surrounded by jungle. Cabanas and open air reintroduced me to my old friend, and we picked up where we left off immediately.

Dirt made me reimagine what it is like to live a life that you love. Because I realized that I had lost my inner child along the ride to adulthood. Only after traveling 2,000+ miles, did I realize the value of the simple things. I relearned how to be a kid, and Dirt made me realize I am happiest when I’m connected to the things that I love.

Strip away all of the societal norms that are supposed to make you happy. A busy social life? Lots of money? Good grades? None of that makes me as happy as much as playing in dirt and not being afraid to get a little messy.

When I was having a rough day, I turned to Dirt. I went on many solo hikes around the cloud forest, and would truck up the side of the mountain at dusk to watch the sun set. Dirt lived in my shoes, and under my bunk bed. It collected in the bathroom I shared with my roommate, and gathered on the porch outside our room.

In times of homesickness, loneliness, grief, and bad days, Dirt was always there.

And when I cried my whole flight home from Monteverde, dirt was caked to the soles of my shoes.

When I got home, my perspective was completely shifted. No longer an anxious clean freak, I hit the local trails.

Dirt and I have had a long friendship. But recently, Dirt has become my best friend. Always there, dirt invites me to the most awesome places. Out in the woods, on the trails, traversing up into the Presidentials, Dirt is my buddy.

Be Happy. Stay Dirty

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