Why we live here

By PORTLAND PHOENIX STAFF  |  April 22, 2009

090424_Shay

Sometimes on a daily basis, I fluctuate between adoring Maine and harboring fantasies of returning to my native Chicago. I am a reluctant Mainer (if I'm even allowed to call myself a Mainer, being From Away as I am) and here for seven years now mostly because sharing custody of a kid from 1100 miles away doesn't work. Love for my kid brought me here, but the thing is that "the kid" is 17 now, so truth is I could start planning my great escape. Instead, I'm planning home repairs on the house I purchased several years ago. I knew a home would likely anchor me here whether I wanted to be or not. But in the end, even though I can't get truly great pizza here or proper ribs, Maine has become home.

Living near the coast, I love the strange ebb and flow of the seasons — things wind down in late fall yet jolt back to life in spring. I love hearing big, bold seagulls outside my window instead of filthy, mean-tempered pigeons with their incessant and incongruous cooing in Chicago. I love the camaraderie here. No matter what age, race, or gender, people here have a knack for always finding common ground talking about the weather, and people will plow out their neighbors in the winter so readily.

I love the quirky shops in Portland. Love the irony of the overall laid-back vibe mixed with the get-up-early mentality. It's great to be minutes away from the ocean and be minutes away from farms. And Maine bears an independent streak similar to my own — so even though as a Black woman I wonder why I'm in one of the whitest states without my lifelong creature comforts, I find there is kinship for me here, and a future for me as well.
_Shay Stewart-Bouley

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