A newfound friendship

Guest blogger Rose Bruno Bailey writes about her years living in Mt. Lebanon and a poem born out of a special relationship here. 

I am from Ohio, and Mt Lebanon was my first home away from home, the place where my husband James and I lived after we were married while he was finishing school in Pittsburgh. We lived there from 1999 to 2005, six years cementing Mt Lebanon as my adopted hometown. I remember my sister Dona delivering a Christmas tree and all kinds of festive goodies to set up our new home on Poplar Avenue. A romantic spaghetti dinner as newlyweds on a box that became a makeshift table. Best dinner we ever had. Beautiful first home memories in your amazing community.

Melissa Bender and the author, Rose Bruno Bailey

My best friend, Melissa Bender (Dloughy) grew up in Mt Lebanon and attended Mt Lebanon High School. When we met in 2002, I thought I was past my prime in my mid-30s and she was just 18. My friend Lisa suggested I get to know Melissa because she may end up being my best friend. Melissa ended up being that and more. Funny how an unexpected moment can change everything. Melissa encouraged me to write; she saw something in me before I saw it in myself. Melissa encouraged me to dance again and audition for a local dance team. My old ways of thinking started to drift away, and my youthful spirit returned.

James and I ended up moving away in the summer of 2005 because of his new career. After Mt Lebanon it was Connecticut, New York City, Los Angeles San Francisco and now back in Los Angeles. Besides Ohio, Mt Lebanon is a place I think of when I think of home.

I often traveled back for dance team performances and parades. Melissa was married in Mt Lebanon United Presbyterian Church to Jesse Bender and I came back again to be a bridesmaid. Melissa is the type of person who brings out greatness in others. I also met two other Mt Lebanon natives: Larry and my dear friend Linda, who would be like family to me. Best first home away from home with friends who would become my Mt Lebanon Family.

I was on one of my trips traveling by train through Pennsylvania back home to Mt Lebanon after living in New York City for some time. My memories flooded in and I was inspired and began writing poetry about my experiences and the beauty of my adopted home.

Here is the poem. It is in my book Camellia in Snow, a book that would have never come to fruition if I did not move to Mt Lebanon and meet a unassuming best friend who is 16 years my junior. Melissa taught me we are not our biological numbers and we have the power to be positive influencers. One chance meeting changed my life and direction and my outlook on friendship and age. I now have friends of all ages.

I am now also a weight loss blogger, I sponsor a charity as I lose weight and I lost more than 60 pounds, and Melissa is a very popular fitness Vlogger/Blogger and wonderful new mother to her son, Maverick. We are still just as close as ever, even through the miles. I’m very proud of her many accomplishments, and I believe we are each other’s biggest fans. We often collaborate together on our projects. One moment changed everything for me, and that moment took place in Mt Lebanon.


Revisiting Pennsylvania

Rolling hills of yesteryear
bring forth the past;
forgotten days gone by.
Emerald trees stacked one upon another,
skyscraping limbs reaching into a vast sky;
hoping to capture a sunlit kiss,
from the saffron wonder above.
Shades of moss and marigold,
mountains, memories and reflections;
vie for my complete attention.
Crescent rivers dive
over wayward sticks and stones.
Time, nor distance
or a New York minute
could ever undo
the crescendo of calmness
found within
Pennsylvania reverie.

Rose Bruno Bailey
Camellia in Snow

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