A Portland Phoenix 10th Anniversary Special Report
By now, we've all heard what the people at Forbes magazine have to say about why Portland is at the top of its annual "America's Most Livable Cities" list. We apparently scored a lot of points on a "leisure index" and had strong five-year household-income growth, as well as an "easygoing quality of life."
But living in Maine is not quite that clinical, nor as simple as liking to sip a pint at Gritty's (which we do love doing, it's true). We need to get, well, a little grittier about the reality of life here.
Right now, it's finally spring, and we've managed to survive a pretty heavy winter. The world is coming back to life around us. As we empty the closet of shorts, backpacks, paddles, and kites, we're refilling it with skis, snowboards, and snowshoes. And we here at the Portland Phoenix are thinking it's pretty good to live in Maine. Not perfect, for sure, but we're still here. We would like to tell you a little of how we got here, and why we've stayed — and we invite you to share your story with us at thePhoenix.com/Portland.
Breaking up is hard to do, like the song says, but recently I endured a break-up simply because I live in Portland. My special lady friend (Illinois-born and Jersey-raised) resided here for seven years. She hated the low wages and endless winters, and so moved to Florida. Sarasota, Florida, to be exact, and she wanted me to go with her, but there was no way in hell. I am a Mainer, through and through, and I love Portland.
I haven't lived in many other states, only New York and Tennessee, where the towns closest to Portland, population-wise, are Schenectady and Jackson, respectively. Portland wouldn't be an important town in Tennessee or New York, but it's Vacationland's cultural center. As such, P-town features countless elements usually absent in bergs this size, like museums, symphonies, sports teams, clubs, and more restaurants than you can shake a whisk at. What does Jackson have? Nothing. Schenectady? Nothing. Sarasota? The porn theatre where Pee Wee Herman got busted diddling himself in 1991, which, I admit, is pretty cool, but other than that, Sarasota has nothing, except my ex-girlfriend.
Sure, every February we're tempted to move to Florida, so why don't we? Because when winter finally ends, and you're walking down Congress Street on that first warm day, when it seems like every pretty girl in Maine is out strolling in the sun, their bodies no longer obscured by seven layers of sweaters and coats, you feel really alive. You feel blessed to live in such a beautiful place, and that feeling will linger, until you wake up hung over on New Years Day. When suffering winter's ravages, remember that, and also, this: only one good thing has ever emerged from Massachusetts in all of American history: the Great State of Maine, in 1820.
_ Rick Wormwood