I picked, quite possibly, the worst time on the calendar to move to Maine. Of all the stretches on the calendar where Maine highways could have embraced me out of loneliness, I opted for the unfailingly congested Fourth of July weekend Y2K. Most of my belongings had already made the trek up from Boston's North Shore a month prior. That first weekend in June, I landed in Portland in time to catch the Old Port Festival, another weekend fracas. The prevailing thought was, "If this party is what Portland is all about, then this place is for me!" The blue neon glow of the Sebago Brewing sign was the first to offer an invitation, and then later, it became a landmark when street names became blurry.
I had called Maine home before; my family lived in South Paris for the first few years of my life, and later, Portland for a year. But this was certainly different, this relocation. For the first time, I was relieved to move away from everything I knew. The close of a seven-year career with my band ended right before my first visit to Portland in June. A four-year relationship was over a few months before that. It was glaringly obvious that I was done there, and needed a new home, if one would take me.
Now a month later, in a box truck with my mattress, drums, and thrift-store furniture, I was sandwiched into peak Turnpike traffic. The place was littered with Massachusetts plates, all weekending. After a few moments of complete stop and radioless U-Haul silence, I exclaimed out my window, "Jesus! Can't you people see I'm trying to get home?"
It was complete. Portland, and Maine in its entirety, had me back again. Hell with Vacationland, I want to stay.
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