Several of us on the blog have written about being from away and I’ve spent some time thinking about how I feel about it. Here’s what I think. It suits me.
We’re 40 miles from the border up here
So I’ve learned to take care of myself
Never been on food stamps
Never been on welfare
So you can just go to hell
Maybe it’s because, as a result of moving twice, being redistricted twice, normal progressions, changing from public to private school and finally spending my senior year as an exchange student in Colombia, I went to nine schools in the nine years from fourth grade through twelfth. So being the outsider feels normal and comfortable to me.
It’s a writerly place to be, I find. Being the observer. Gauging the nuance in the interactions you see, knowing you’ll never know the full history or context, but speculating like mad.
There was that one bad winter we ate nothing but clams
Lord, it did get a little bit tiresome
Wonder if one of them could do something like that
Maybe then I’d think there was more to ’em
And, there’s a wonderful freedom in floating a little above the fray in any small town.
“How’s that new restaurant?” we’ll ask my sister-in-law who’s lived in Boothbay full-time for thirteen years.
“Oh, don’t go there,” she’ll say. “The owner is terrible to his mother.”
“But how’s the food?” we’ll ask, grateful we don’t have to pick a side in that fight.
When I was a girl we’d walk to the bay
Who’d think to put a house on a point?
They’re selling off land that’s nothing
But rocks and spray
And I say it serves ’em all right
Of course, it’s a good thing I don’t mind being from away, since there’s no way to turn back the clock and be born in Maine. I was born at the Chelsea Naval Hospital in Massachusetts where my father was defending the port city of Boston from the North Koreans. “See what I good job I did,” he’d always say.
I left with my parents at the age of six months and it took me twenty-two years to move back to New England. But I have to say, from the moment I did, I felt like I was home.
I love this coast Like I love my sons
Love the wind like my daughter
Used to be I knew everyone
‘Cause everybody was born here