I am from Jaysun and Anne Stockdell-Giesler, from an artist and a writer. From learning to never end a sentence with a preposition by the age of 6 and laughing along as my math homework stumped even my father.
I am from a long history of English degrees, of creative writing and PhD’s. From the practice of medicine weaving it’s way into art but never quite understanding mathematics.
I am from Floridian sunrises and Carolinian sunsets. From packing boxes every two years and moving, moving, moving.
From learning to make new friends, but never by my own initiative. From perpetual, genetic introversion and speaking when spoken to, from rehearsing my responses and questions over and over before they left my mouth.
I am from being accidentally placed in a theater class and falling absolutely in love, despite the way my voice shook with each monologue. From playing tree frogs, young children, side show attractions, and Jordan Baker.
I am from hospital stays and weekend getaways to the Cancer Center on Manning Dr. From nurses feeling like aunts and aunts feeling just as lost as me.
From loving and living with blind hope, learning that love may not conquer everything, but it sure as hell can help keep up the fight.
I am from reading Elise to sleep and teaching her things her teachers didn’t have the patience for. From her bringing me home flowers on Mother’s Day on our first one without one.
From learning to live in spite of the odds against me, against us.
I am from my father’s water bottles filled with sunflower seeds. From 12 hour car rides with him, blasting Shinedown with the windows down and feeling more than alive.
I am from the blue spiral notebook, falling apart but still holding the first poem I ever wrote, faded lead and messy letters. From 4 years on WordPress, from 2:00 AM drafts to mid-afternoon fiction.
From a cut and paste 16-letter last name and the exhaustion of explaining “I go by Arden; it’s my middle name…no, not Aiden/Aaron/Adrian/Sardine…it’s like “garden”, but without the “g”.”
I am from a lack of decisiveness but always an ever-present drive. From learning my name means “passion” and wondering if names really do define us, shaping us from the moment we comprehend our own.
I am from infinite love flowing through my father, my sisters, and me. From chaos creating perpetual care and a now unwavering sense of loyalty. From the strongest bonds formed from the weakest moments.
I am from my mother’s heart and my father’s arms.
I am from love.