As of July 4, 2021, we will have been in Maine for 1 year. A whole year. We landed here in the midst of the pandemic, fresh out of a high risk state, fleeing the contamination and extreme heat of another desert summer. A year later, we are easing into a more gentle type of summer season.
I say gentle, but there’s nothing truly gentle about house hunting in this current market.
…But, its gentle in a different way. In the type of way that has me grieving and missing my grandparents, long after they’ve been gone. Seeing them in most things that I do, and when I look in the mirror. Hearing from my parents how much I’m like my grandmother, from her sweater choices to her favorite ice cream flavors and silver hair. Hearing from my aunt that my grandfather was a believer in good things come to those who wait. Really recognizing the void that’s left here without them.
8 years ago I was preparing to leave Maine for Los Angeles. 5+ years ago I was in the northern Arizona woods, deep in grief over a life lost. 3 years ago my current partner was preparing to join me in the southern Arizona desert. 1 year ago we moved here to Maine.
In between all those years, I lived infinite lifetimes.
Each of those lifetimes will never truly get the fanfare and audience they deserve. I haven’t quite figured out yet how to fully immortalize them yet.
And now being back in my home state, I can so vividly remember familiar smells: like the indoor pool I learned how to swim in as a little kid (and sat in fear atop the giant diving board before finally jumping - I only had to jump one time to pass the class); the smell of my grandparents’ garage where we had a swing made of rope and a plank of wood hanging from the rafters; the smell of their basement with the blue-gray painted stairs, that smelled of stale laundry yet somehow so clean; the smell of my great-aunt’s cigarettes on a summer day at the lake. I remember visiting the library with my mother and my brother, our reusable tote bags under arm, as I read the Sue Grafton murder mystery alphabet series and Nancy Drew Case Files as a pre-teen — both series I have now re-collected for my at-home library as an adult.
I was in my 30’s when I left Maine, and I was in my 40’s when I returned. A much different person. Sometimes my reflection catches me off guard. I am still trying to discern the line between selfish and self-care. Lines that got blurred in the years that I was so busy fighting abuse and toxicity while simultaneously fighting myself… years before and after I left home.
Revisiting where you came from is hard and beautiful and so weird.
And so, in this first year, we have visited many antique shops, lots of ocean beaches and gathered many ocean treasures, played with my two year old niece and gawked at how much she is learning already (and so quickly!). We’ve worked and played, but mostly worked. (Luckily, we really enjoy the group of folks we work with at our dayjob.) We are on the edge of figuring out where we’ll live come Fall so we can give my parents their guest room back, and its an exhausting ride. We are having good days and bad days and all the days in the middle. I’ve put my fabric dyeing business on hiatus since my parents’ house just isn’t the right situation for it, which has given me time to plan and organize other aspects of my business and to get ready for what lies ahead. Making big plans is just as important as hitting them.
I have worn all the hats, juggled all the things, and rested very little - but am trying to get better at it. I have cried a lot (and mostly while hiding).
This first year has felt like infinite limbo sprinkled with ups and downs and no sugar coating. It has been extreme in all of the emotional pathways you’d expect. And, its just been life. Everyday life that requires the usual.
When I sat down to document our first year, it felt like it would really be a lot! And as I started writing, I realized: its mostly just everyday life. We haven’t been able yet to hit our stride, where we’re in a place of our own and in our own routine and DIY-ing everything and taking weekend trips and living that life we had hoped for when we decided to make this move. The pandemic and the housing market kind of put a damper on all of that, and changed how things happen. How life happens. And so we adjust, until next year, when we hopefully will be that much closer to it all..
And, as far as years go, this one was pretty good all things considering. We survived it. I can write about it. And it continues.