Thursday, November 5, 2015

Happy Maine-iversary

Right about this time last year, we rolled into the rest stop at Kittery, just across the bridge that marks the Maine state line. One hour from our new home.

We'd been driving all day, with just a few stops here and there, and we all felt jittery and excited and anxious. You know, lwhen your legs feel all twitchy because they've been folded up all day and you've been drinking Cokes and sucking lollipops. The black sky sparkled with a zillion stars -- night seems darker here, maybe because there are fewer people and less light pollution -- and I leaned back to stretch my neck and back. I breathed deeply, yoga-style, while the kids ran and jumped and played around the Smokey the Bear statue. And that's when I smelled it: White pine and salt air. That magical combination that brings back every happy vacation memory from my childhood. Here we are, I realized, in the place I've treasured my whole life for its wide open spaces, rocky shorelines, wild blueberry hillsides. And we live here now. Maine.

Our first morning in Portland, checking out Back Cove
This was a far cry from how I started the day, mind you. As we left South Graylyn Crest, I bawled. I'm talking snot-bubbly, knee-buckly, air-sucky, squinchy-face weeping. I was terrified.

Honey and Happy were in one car, Zippy and me in the van, both vehicles packed to the ceiling with the things that couldn't go in the moving truck, including two cats, four houseplants, one goldfish and a crayfish in deli containers on the front seat. The truck had pulled out the night before and we'd slept on the floor in our empty house. I drove past my friend's house, waved a last goodbye, and just couldn't pull myself back together. Even after a stop at Wawa for coffee and our last soft pretzels, I couldn't stop sniffling -- and I was so distracted a man came running at the car to rescue the giant coffee I'd left on the roof as we pulled away. (Then I cried even harder thinking of how I'd almost lost my coffee.)

We were leaving our families in New Jersey and Philadelphia. We were leaving our friends and our church in Delaware. We were leaving our jobs. We were leaving our schools. We were leaving our home of 8 years empty...yet unsold! And we were driving 500 miles to a city we'd only visited a couple times -- to a rental home we'd only seen in online photos.

What's more, we only had one income: Mine. Honey had quit his job in Delaware and had nothing lined up in Portland. We hadn't yet enrolled Zippy in preschool, so we didn't know where he would land, either. We figured we had enough money in the bank to get us through three months (without any emergencies, of course). And we had help with our rent from my new employer for three months.

And it was November. In Maine. Where it's dark by 4:30 in winter and snow starts to fall around Thanksgiving.

Portland Head Light. I'll never get tired of this vista.



Ho. Lee. Shit. Even as I write these words, I cannot believe we did this. Can you believe we did this?!

We leaped. Jumped with both feet right out into unknown everything. Come what may.

Yet here I sit, one year later, in our comfy little home listening to Zippy tell me about his field trip to a children's play. I started the day with a PTO meeting, then impromptu coffee with a new friend. Happy and Honey are at a Cub Scout meeting planning their next hiking adventure; tomorrow one of Happy's friends will come over to play after school. The boys walk hand in hand to school each morning, and everyone in the neighborhood knows they come as a set. Honey has an even better job than the one he left behind, working for one of the top companies in Portland. We do swimming lessons, art lessons, Scouts, Bible study group -- just like we always have. And I'm starting to recognize faces of people I know in the farmers market on Saturdays.

Portland is our home now. This quirky little city full of hipsters and lobsters and camera-toting tourists has felt right from the start, even as we tromped through mountains of snow last winter. I watch the sun come up over the cove as I make my way to the office every morning, and every evening I marvel at the pinky-purple sky as I come home. I breathe deeper here, savor moments more fully. My wardrobe consists of jeans, cardigans, yoga pants, and hiking boots. People around me move with less urgency, and I often sense that time off is more valued than time on. Nobody looks at me funny when I collect pine cones and fallen leaves in the park. They don't blink when I pull over to take a photo of a hot-air balloon on a weekday morning commute. Nobody giggles at my older kid's yen to play ukulele or my younger kid's penchant for spinning. We fit into this city's groove.
These wackos amaze me every day.



We're spending this weekend in Acadia National Park, the place where my family vacationed so often, the place responsible for my yearning to take this leap. It seems the appropriate spot to celebrate our first Maine-iversary, to say thank you to the One who provides all things. I'm looking back over this year with awe and wonder, amazed that my kids get to grow up with the pine-and-salt air in their nostrils. And I'm looking at each person in my family with new appreciation. We are brave. We are grateful. We are cozy. We know now we can do hard things.





2 comments:

Chandra said...

I love this.
I also love how many stories me & my fellow from-Away friends have of That Was Crazy, How Did We Possibly Do That When We Moved Here...
And none of us would change it. :)

Ruth Culham said...

There is nothing like finding your heart home. The Bachman journey is a treasure to read — thank you for sharing it, Tori. I admire every one of you. Ruth