Saturday, May 21, 2011

Time's Fun When You're Having Flies

This past week saw the two-year anniversary of my return to Maine. The preceding 26 years had been spent living on the Gulf Coast of Texas--first on the Island of Galveston, then Houston, and finally in Humble. I left just before sunset on a Sunday evening and arrived just after sunrise on Thursday. I rode in the cab of an over-sized rental truck crammed with all the detritus of a happy, comfortable Southern life that I hoped would soften the transition to a spartan Northern one. Among the treasures were my four cats: Jezebel, Scarlet, Delilah, and Vanya. No residence would be home without them. I left a balmy 80 degree Texas and arrived to discover there was still snow in some places despite the 45 degrees of warmth. Living at sea level for so long I had forgotten the sensation of ear-popping and assumed I was experiencing fatal brain implosion. No doubt caused by endless country music and evangelization over the radio.

If I had known then what I was coming back to I would probably have turned around. But the truck was unloaded and returned before the full impact of my decision to come home revealed itself.

I love my home state. It's wild and it's raw. There's a simplicity that touches my heart. People don't expect much here. They don't whine about what they want. For the most part they are satisfied with what they have because they have earned it by hard work and determination. They take making the most of what they have in stride. I think Winter has a lot to do with it. In Texas I rarely experienced more than a few days of bone-chilling weather at a time. Even all the hurricanes that rearranged my home were warm blooded. But here, months of subarctic temperatures and falling snow really develop your sense of appreciation and gratitude for the simplest luxuries--heat, warmth, wool, flannel, soup, and companionship. You don't have a lot of leisure to lament. You do what needs to be done and then you rest, grateful and self-satisfied.

I came back with the best of intentions. To make life easier and prolong independence in her own home for my then 91 year-old mother. Somewhere along the way...between my last visit and my permanent return....she had transformed from Mother Theresa into Leona Helmsley. It's been difficult. Two very headstrong and independent people under the same roof. Her body slowly but steadily betraying itself and mine in full vigor. Her mind slipping into resolute misperception and mine aching to be heard. Neither of us are demure people. We are too much alike to ever be the best of friends. It's like living with Miss Haversham on Wuthering Heights only without the wedding dress. I trust Dickens and Bronte' will forgive the allusions. Her tongue and appetite are still as sharp as ever so I must be doing something right though I will never be told so. This is, I believe, penance for all the wrongs I knowingly committed and unwittingly contributed to during the happy years travelling the world between leaving and returning here.

But Maine is the great elixir. Breathing the air and drinking the natural beauty is a soothing compress to a blistered brow. No matter where I was living Maine was always home to my soul. I have returned to behind the back woods on the tundra of my birth and, all things considered, it is good to be here.

24 comments:

  1. I came back to the south to be near to my birthplace and my parents who were getting on. I've been back 18 years and they are gone. I still have not decided whether I did right or not. Now I have a grandchild here that even though I can't see her I will not desert her until she is ready. Or maybe it's me that needs to be ready.
    The only thing about any of this is I sprung from this land, I belong to it and it belongs to me but I'd really rather be somewhere else.

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  2. Oldfool:--"I belong to it and it belongs to me." That's how I feel too. I just wish I could have and enjoy it without the fingernails-on-a-chalkboard soundtrack.

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  4. ...'Maine was always home to my soul.' This line struck me particularly.
    A fascinating read Lord W.

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  5. I can't believe it's been two years. You need to come back to us. I'm happy you are welcoming back your birthplace in the home of your heart but you sir are truly, deeply, sorely missed. We love you so.

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  6. Ah the return home.I achieved it after 29 years away and what a wonderful decision it has turned out to be.Two years already for you LW!!! It's been a pleasure and a joy to follow your exploits.

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  7. Sensible Footwear:--Greetings! Yes, Maine is the home of my soul wherever I venture. I've always felt that way even though I left here for Europe when I was 9 months old and didn't return again until I was fifteen. Maine gets in your blood and under your skin. Thanks for stopping by and the kind words.

    Red:--Yup, two years. I have taken inventory of each one of the 730. On the surface they all seem very much alike but, in Maine, nuance is even more subtle than the changing of seasons. I miss y'all too. More than any amount of words could ever express.

    Von:--The best part of returning to Maine--besides the sheer beauty of the place--is that here and now I have the time and inclination to blog. Which has gifted me with meeting some very remarkable people among whom you are a standout!

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  8. A tenacious blood there running through your roots. Perhaps we should have a talk with Mother Wellbourne. Of course she wont last forever, pity she's not inclined to sweeten up with the affections of a devoted son nearby. Does she blog? Tell her fans are waiting. I for one would like to hear her life story if she's not busy.

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  9. I do love your thoughts about the Maine mindset. It applies, I think, to lots of the north/northeast. We hunger so, for so long, for physical comfort and beauty that when it comes, it is . . . enough.

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  10. VQ:--HRH the Duchess of Wellbourne has an incredible life story to be told and she has made me vow not to write it until after she's planted. I have had a working manuscript for her 'bio' that can't be completed until I can have unrestricted access to her 'papers'...diaries, letters, and journals written before and during the Nazi occupation of Paris. She doesn't think much of technology and even less of those of us who blog.

    For her, acknowledging my efforts on her behalf would be tantamount to admitting surrender to necessity and 'there'll be no white flag above her door' while she still draws breath.

    June:--Absolutely! With the exception of Bostonians....those people are never satisfied. They won the world series and they still want more. Until 1820 Maine was part of Massachusetts. There's been talk about Maine returning it's southern areas to Massachusetts' control. I can guarantee there'll be shootin' in them thar hills if it ever gets beyond the talking part! Lobster fisherman and other harvesters of the sea are a very formidable bunch to cross. The rest of us ain't too wussy either!

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  11. If it doesn't get any 'easier', may it at least be 'workable', lol. xo

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  12. Red:--As long as there is an 'outdoors' it is workable. Maine has a lot of 'outdoors'.

    Gwen:--Um, thanks? I think.

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  13. I've always wanted to live in Maine, since I was a little girl. I envisioned a cottage by the sea. My plan was to be waitress.

    I've begged my husband to move to Maine, but to my displeasure he has denied every single request.

    Finally, he told me why. It is too cold in Maine for you. I have severe Arthritis and can hardly stand the cold here in Dallas. In the winter here, my Rheumatoid Arthritis joins in a horrid dance with the other types, and attempts to keep me under covers.

    At any rate, I was tickled by the paragraphs about your Mother. I've read several things today that have had me laughing so hard that the dogs have come running. Yours has been the best.

    I agree with Gwen, in a very good way that you are amusing. You inspire me to be a better writer, and to look at life with a different view.

    Joey

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  14. Thankyou LW for your kind words, ,much appreciated this week.

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  15. No worries--Maine will stay Maine, I'm sure of that. Aint' nobody foolin' with Maine. I fully understand your sentiment--Maine as home of your soul. It's a gorgeous state, full of so many natural wonders--beautiful, lush forest, pristine lakes and mountains and miles of gorgeous coastline (and fjords!). My family's been playing, and paying taxes, in Maine for well over twenty years, yet we'll never be considered Mainers. Nope, only those born in Maine may consider themselves as such. Lucky you. ;)

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  16. It is fascinating that the place of our birth remain embedded for many of us. Well expressed and well written.
    While I smile at the reference to Wuthering Heights, I understand the call of the wild.

    May she drive you crazy for many years to come;)

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  17. "I have had a working manuscript for her 'bio' that can't be completed until I can have unrestricted access to her 'papers'..."

    That will be a very good read. I always have enjoyed your relaying of her adventures and bits and pieces of her life and background. What a fascinating woman. You both have quite a lot in common really.

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  18. Bostonians are never happy because they all speak like Elmer Fudd and they project their dissatisfaction with themselves onto everything else.

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  20. What a great post! I felt with you all the way, as I too did the mother thing. Mine lived to be 100. Her last years were difficult. She had a Ph.D. in economics and was one of the smartest people I ever knew, but when her mind began to slip she was a real handful: obstinate and aggressive. And yet I miss her.

    I admire you for going back to Maine. I grew up in Massachusetts and spent childhood summers in Maine, but I now live in the relatively bug free northwest and this is where I truly belong.

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  21. I'm with Red. Where are you?

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  22. Lord Wellbourne, I miss your posts.

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