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Young Writers Project: 'Thank You, To A Town, Where I Used To Live'

Courtesy of Lia Chien
Isabel Blankenbaker, an eighth grader at Barstow Memorial School, writes about facing down hatred and learning the hard way what real friendship means and how to be true to yourself.

I dare not mention your name,
Not because you hold any fame
But because I am ashamed.

I am ashamed that I called you my home for so many years.
I am ashamed that I allowed you to cause me so many tears.
I am ashamed of the fact that you hold such irrational fears.

I know that you hold no appreciation for art.
I know that you couldn't care less about smarts.
I know that you harbor hatred for those who are different.
I know that you, of all places out there, are the place I lived in
And I know I can't undo that, no matter how many times I've wished it.

You cared not for any form of art.
You cared only for those who played a certain part.

I knew a girl with such light in her eyes,
But you chipped away at her with hateful lies
And suddenly she was so easy to despise.
You managed to strip her of her disguise
And took away the light in her eyes.

Her personality was like a work of art,
But this world made her bitter and tart.

I am ashamed because I turned my back on her.
I am ashamed because I walked away from her.
I am ashamed because I was supposed to be her friend.
But that was not how it turned out in the end.

You called her words filled with spite.
You took away her light.
You made me afraid to fight.

You made me hate what I am.
You made me deny what I am.
You made us all play pretend.
You made us turn, friend on friend.

But most of all I hate you because
I thought I was strong enough to fight your hate.
But soon I began to see fighting your hate as a waste.
And I know it wasn't just some cruel act of unavoidable fate
I know that I turned my back, that's a fact I can't debate.

And I hate you because while you may have made me do it,
I couldn't see through it.
And I'm still the one who blew it.

I turned my back on my friend.
I'm not sure if she's still playing pretend.
I'm not even sure if she's alive or dead.

But I want to thank you.
No, really I do.
Because if it had not been for you

I would have never stopped playing pretend.
I wouldn't have such loyalty to my friends.

Because like it or not, you made me.
In a weird way your hate set me free

Because I have come face to face with hate,
Because I have learned that there is no such thing as fate,
Because now I will never turn my back on a friend,
Because now I know not to try to pretend,
Because now I have light in my eyes,
A light that can't be hidden by any of your hateful lies.

You tried to hide art and beauty from our view,
But we made new art because of you.

So thank you for setting me free
Because now I can truly live as me.

The Young Writers Project provides VPR's audience another avenue to hear and read selections from Vermont's young writers. The project is a collaboration organized by Geoff Gevalt at the Young Writers Project. The thoughts and ideas expressed here are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of Vermont Public Radio.

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