Happiness is often a hard feeling to describe with words. For me, my happiness can be described with stories of the countless memories I created at my Vermont vacation home. We had placed a sign at the beginning of our property of a large, cuddly looking bear that proudly held a sign reading “Welcome to Bear Paw”! Seeing this sign at the beginning of every visit sparked a joy inside me that warms my heart to this day. To describe this house and what it means to me, I first have to mention I have never been much of an introvert, but also not fully extroverted either. I classify my personality as an ambivert, which is an equal mix of both extroverted and introverted qualities. This vacation house, dubbed Bear Paw by my father, was an ambivert's paradise. Settled on top of a mountain, when you were at Bear Paw you were in total seclusion. Neighbors were miles away, so if you did not want to talk to anyone you could avoid it easily. Despite the seemingly isolated location, Bear Paw was only a short drive away from the quaint town of Dover, Vermont. This town has a certain magic that is hard to describe. The full-time Dover residents are, to me, some of the kindest people in the world. When you were in Dover, whether it was the dead of an icy Vermont winter or a vibrant spring day, you were always greeted with smiles and warmth wherever you went. I feel these visits to Bear Paw, although infrequent, shaped me into the person I am today. Even though our visits were never more than a week at a time, the culture there gives you time to reset and focus on what is important. When at Bear Paw, I was able to forget all about school and responsibility and just focus on enjoying my time with my family. You can imagine how devastated my sisters and I where when my father told us we were going to sell this house.
I remember the morning I was told this tragic news. All I could do was cry and cry. In all honesty, I was angry at my parents for selling this house without telling my sisters and I. I kept on thinking how could they? It was a hard pill to swallow and it took me a long time to get used to the thought of not ever being able to visit Bear Paw again. The day we were told this, my father also told us that we were going to visit one last time in order to pack the entire house up. It was summer, and usually, a weekend in Vermont in the middle of July was a perfect vacation, but this trip we knew would not be a perfect vacation by any means. It was about to be a nightmare of packing up the entire house, selling furniture and lastly, and perhaps the most painful part, having to say goodbye once and for all to Bear Paw. It is hard to stay angry and upset when you see the big bear welcoming you to Bear Paw, so when we finally reached the end of the four hour trip up, I had decided to make the most out of our final stay. This experience made me so grateful for all of the memories my family had made up there. Throughout our last stay tears were cried, stories were shared and final memories were made. Towards the end of this trip, I came to realize that not all change is bad change. Sometimes change is necessary to make you appreciate how lucky you are, and to be sure to always be grateful. I had finally taken the time to appreciate the woods around me, the fresh unpolluted air in my lungs and the warm sun on my skin. These are little things I would have never paid attention to if I didn't know it was my last time at Bear Paw. My appreciation for my family and for those memories we made at Bear Paw will never leave me throughout my whole life. I learned the valuable lessons that have shaped me into who I am today. Now, when I am confronted by devastating change, I know that I can take a moment to remember Bear Paw. I will remember that change is not the end of the world, and that if you keep a positive mindset, you are always able to make a bad situation into a positive one. I am comforted by the fact that our friendly Bear Paw sign will welcome more families to the magical place that it is, and will bring the same amount of happiness that it gave my family and I to someone else.