Do You Miss It?

That question is posed to me on a fairly regular basis by folks asking how it is that a Black woman from Chicago came to live in a place like Maine. To be honest, I get tired of answering the question and decided to blog about my feelings on the matter. For starters, of course I miss it…hello! I was born and raised there, in many ways I will always be connected to it but at the same time it represents my past.

My original decision to come to Maine was made for me, the fact that joint custody of a child does not work well when your child is racking up as many frequent flier miles as a salesman was the deciding factor. My ex at that time was unwilling to move back to the midwest and it put me the position of needing to move closer to him. Originally we were planning on moving to Boston but I realized that even Boston was too far plus it was too damn expensive. So we figured after having spent a few days in Maine’s largest city that we would live in Portland, little did I know when we actually moved here that I would get a job in a town south of Portland that included a discounted apartment. That in a nutshell is how I can to not only live in Maine but in a small town though technically my town is a city but with a population of barely 16,000 I still call it a town.

Now when the plans were made to move here, we figured we would be here until the boy turned 18 and then we would blow this popstand. Well the boy turns 18 in a few weeks and at this point I have no plans of moving anywhere this year unless the job offer of the century turns up.

I admit the first few years here were rough, I used to joke I was like a mobster who had been put in the witness protection program and relocated to someplace far away where no one would find them. It really did feel that way at times. The first year I was so lonely, I scared myself at times. Packing up your life and relocating 1100 miles away to a place where the only folks you know are your husband, ex-husband and in-laws and son is a hard thing. I walked away from a lot to make this move happen. Professionally I gave up a lot, at the same time I announced I was leaving Chicago, my boss at my previous job in Chicago announced she was moving on and I was approached by the board of directors about applying for her position. That shelter now just completed a multi-million dollar renovation and is one of the leading agencies on homelessness in Chicago. Their current director was my former co-worker who was just under me, it’s a position that had I landed it would have been a true feather in my professional cap. As it is they are still using policies and programs that I laid the foundation for before leaving and had I stayed I can assure you I would be earning a lovely salary.

I won’t lie, in the tough moments here, I think about that. I think about how since moving here my career has taken some twists and turns and not always good ones. Instead though I focus on what I have gained, the personal growth that has happened within me would have been harder to come by if I still lived in Chicago.

I miss the hustle and bustle, I miss living in a place that never sleeps. I do miss knowing fabulous waffles and burritos are available at 3 am if I so desire. I miss my close friends and even what is left of my family that still lives in Chicago. Yet I have come to enjoy the solitude of living in a true 4 season place, I love following the natural rhythms that occur here…that ole man Winter requires that we slow down and take stock of our lives. I love that if I run outside to grab a coffee and am wearing sweats,I won’t feel bad…hell, no one will notice.

I love the sense of community that happens when you live in a small town. I love that I see the librarian and her family at the art walk. I love knowing that if on a rare bus ride to the city if I should happen to not have my bus fare that the bus driver knows me and will still let me ride…good luck trying that one on CTA!

Racially, yes its lonely at times more so since my best sista friend decided to leave the area but this is where I rely on the internet and phone to keep me connected to my sistern. I admit it would be great to have a Black hair shop nearby without having to travel so far but hey we do at least have one decent shop in Southern Maine now. Progress is happening.

I don’t miss the political correctness that permeated life in Chicago where on the surface there was far more diversity but truthfully things were pretty damn segregated. Folks come together for work but by and large folks live in areas where everyone looks like them. Granted that was not the case for the Spousal Unit and I and I do miss our old neighborhood. A place where a walk down the street, meant passing Mexican, Swedish and Lebanese eateries as well as a host of other diverse places. Where culture and entertainment did not involve seeking it out as we do in Maine but literally just stumbling into it. I miss being able to hop the bus or el to downtown Chicago and wandering the museums on free day. I miss eating Mexican seafood stew at 24 hour taquerias. Don’t even get me started on the thrifting…so much choice.

Yet I am in a different place where there are good things as well and while I have no idea how long we will be here since every time I run the numbers taking into consideration increased salaries, we would lose a certain peaceful  quality we now have were we to move back to Chicago or any large city. So for now I call Maine home and while its natural to miss what we are used to, no longer does that longing feel my every moment.

Just another fall day in Maine

I love long holiday weekends, since for the obvious reason it means a day off work. This weekend up here in Maine signals pretty much the official end of the tourist season, not that folks don’t come when its cold but most folks enjoy Maine when the weather is nice. So to celebrate the end of the season, the family and I went over to the neighboring town where we took in some sights and enjoyed the last pier fries of the season.DSC02423 Prior to moving to Maine, the idea of eating french fries with nothing but salt and vinegar would have seemed like a strange concept but something about the way these fries are cooked, make them something locals and tourists alike enjoy.

In addition to one last official visit to the beach, I even took in some good thrifting…scored another great container. I am all about the containers. Once again such a great weekend left me inspired to share some of the pictures I took. Sorry to say, you will rarely encounter any shots of myself or the family aside from shots where you can’t recognize us. Due to the work I do in real life, I am not anxious to put our faces up on the blog. While I am an open book in many regards, its important to me to respect my family’s need for privacy also coupled with the fact that since I occasionally attract unstable folks with my writings for a local publication, it hit me that giving folks a face to attach to my name might not be a great idea.

See ya in a few days!

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Joys of Maine…a day in the life of BGIM

I realize that sometimes I rant so much that it might be hard to imagine why I continue to stay in Maine aside from the fact who in their right mind would buy an old ass house that needs tons of work from me? But yesterday was one of those days that reminds me of why I enjoy Maine.

We left the house after doing our usual Sat trek to the farmers market and library and ended up going for a drive. The drive took us to one of the lighthouses here in Southern Maine as well to park with a neat fort….amazing entertainment that is free and appeals to the almost 4 year old in the house. (Elder boy decided to sleep all day…gotta love teens!) After exploring the lighthouse and fort, our tummies were rumbling so we found the coolest cafe/bakery near the lighthouse with mostly cheap fresh food. Though $4.50 was a tad high for a plate of eggs and toast for girl child, the plate was filled to almost overflowing with eggs.

After eating, we ventured to a never seen before Goodwill which I discovered was the best one I have found thus far in Maine since all the prices were $4.99, scored a lovely vintage summer dress…made Mama very happy. At that point it was time to head home along the way we stopped off for ice cream at a local candy shop and a chance to view the life size chocolate moose.

Clearly it was a full day and I would have been happy to call it a day but not wanting elder child to be left out, I took him out last night to hear some live music at a new venue in the town next door…it was a night that included good music, hanging with my son, chatting with friends and a special treat for Mama…3 glasses of sangria (why have I only just discovered sangria…must get a recipe). Regular readers know I have a driving phobia so we walked home from the venue, about a mile or so at 11 at night and it was a peaceful walk, the type of walk that back home in Chicago I could not imagine doing late at night after a few drinks.

Anyway that’s a day in the life of the Black Girl in Maine and just a snapshot into why I live here.