The first time I saw Maine, I was a Mama Bear armed and ready to go into battle. My ex-husband had decided not to send my son back after a holiday visit and after several months of trying to work through the legalities of the situation, I couldn’t take anymore. I had to see my son, I didn’t know at that point the changes that lie ahead but all I knew was that I needed to set my eyes on my son and make sure he was okay. At that point in time my ex-husband and I had a less than pleasant relationship made worse by his refusal to send my son back. No one wanted me to go to Maine, but a Mama Bear separated from her cub is not to be fucked with…no one and nothing was going to stop me. Not the fact that Maine was a white rural state, not the fact that my ex was living in a little town in Western Maine, not the fact that I had never been here. Nothing.
Mind you in making my preparations to go to Maine for the first time 14 years ago, I realized that Maine was a different beast. I hopped on a flight from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to this day that was probably the smallest plane I had ever been on. Looking back I remember thinking oh shit, as I looked around on the flight and saw that I was the only person of color on the plane. Yet my seatmate was a chatty middle aged woman, who gave me her number if I ever found myself in need of help while in Maine as during the course of the flight I shared why I was going to Maine. I admit in my heart I was considering taking my son back, legal battle be damned…my seatmate was a mother and though I did not articulate my true thoughts I suspect she knew what I was planning. I also remember thinking people here seemed pretty friendly.
The flight landed and walking into the Portland Jetport I remember thinking, this is an airport? Coming from Chicago, the airport in Portland looked like starter airport….I didn’t have much time to think as I was immediately greeted by my driver. See, at that point in life I had never even behind the wheel of a car and with over 50 miles separating me from my son I had to hire a limousine service to get me to my destination. I won’t go into every detail but I remember that first night thinking I had never seen such dark roads and looking up at the sky thinking what the fuck are those shiny things? Silly city girl…they were stars but rare are the sight of stars in Chicago. So many firsts.
At the end of that first visit, I didn’t steal away with my son since having gotten a lay of the land I realized it was much harder than I had planned but I did meet some of the friendliest humans I had ever known possible. So when the legal battle got to the point that winning meant emotionally hurting my son and also bankrupting me, I realized that moving to Maine was simply a better option.
My relationship to Maine has been tenuous at times. I didn’t exactly move here because I wanted to, I moved here because I had to. Sure no one put a gun to my head but not moving was simply not an option. I never planned to settle down and buy a house but after the first couple of years realized this was not a great place to be a renter. While its easy to set a goal and say you will only stay in a place a certain amount of time its hard to avoid getting on with the business of living while you are in that space.
However I woke up this morning and realized that for the first time in a long time, I miss city living. Oh I love nature now, I love having my own house, and I love the sense of community. But my city bones are ready to be stretched! I am not sure what brought this about; I suspect it was triggered by the sudden closure of my favorite non chain coffeehouse in my area. I am tired of having to make hair appointments weeks in advance because there is a limited supply of places to go and the list goes on. There is also the realization that being a Black woman in a white space is challenging. My recent dental experiences have reminded me of that especially when someone I know told me they went to the same oral surgeon I went to and had a far better experience.
Of course now the Spousal Unit and I are not as young as we used to be and there is something to be said for stability. I shared my thoughts this morning with my husband that perhaps it is time to consider our options and he did remind me of how traumatic this move was at the time, I can’t say I had forgotten but I am open to the possibilities. The downside of course is that being homeowners it’s not so easy to pick up and move and living in a one hundred plus year old home that still needs work is not exactly going to fly off the shelf.
I don’t know what the future holds, perhaps more weekend trips to Boston and New York, both places where I have friends and connections. Perhaps such getaways will reduce my longing for city life. Or is it simply time to start working on the exit strategy? I admit when I do the pro and con list there are strong reasons for staying put in Maine as well as strong reasons for leaving. Decisions such as this almost make me long for the days of childhood when the big decisions got made for me. Oh well…I will keep you posted!