Lea Wait, here. And although many people (from away) now consider me a Maine writer, I am very conscious of the fact that a) I was born in Boston. And b) I’ve only lived in Maine full-time since 1998.
Of course, I vacationed here (“vacationed” being defined as anywhere from ten days to six weeks while I was in school and/or working) for (gulp) over fifty years before that. In only one year did I fail to get to Maine: the first year after I’d graduated from college and had a “real” job. The kind of corporate job where you didn’t get any days off for the first twelve months. My mother sent me a framed sprig of sea lavender with a note “not to forget.” That framed sprig was on my office desk every one of the thirty years I worked in New York and New Jersey. I didn’t forget. And wished I was in Maine.
Now, miraculously, I’m here. Dream come true. I work for myself — although frequent emails from one of the four companies that have published my books remind me that I still have deadlines. But I’m no longer writing corporate communications of varying sorts, or developing strategies for a corporation I want to leave, or representing a company I respected … but that stole weekends and evenings as well as the basic ten hours a day I worked there.
I live in Maine.
The first week I lived here I was thrilled to exchange my New Jersey drivers’ license for one from Maine. I registered to vote at my new address. And I put Maine license plates on my car. (I’m still smile when I see those license plates.)
Today, just two weeks short of sixteen years later, I’m still excited to be here. I still look out the windows of my home and silently rejoice. I breathe in the salt air. And then I sit down at my desk and get to work.
When I moved to Maine I assumed my sisters and children and all their families would visit often. That hasn’t happened. Jobs and marriages and family obligations have taken them further away from Maine. Yes, sometimes they visit. But not often.
But during these years I’ve married, something I never dreamed of when I moved here, and I’ve made friends, in person and on line. I’m not lonely. But, looking at SEPTEMBER on the calendar today has reminded me how different the Maine I vacationed in was from the Maine I live in now.
When I vacationed here, I ate seafood every day, and lobsters often. Now I eat lobsters when we have guests, and seafood occasionally. My husband prefers meat, and I don’t argue. After all, I used to be the cook. Now he is.
When I vacationed here I went to the beach at least once a summer, went on “tour boats” out of places like Boothbay Harbor, and sat on the rocks at Pemaquid. This year I haven’t seen a beach or a been out on a boat of any kind, although (when I
had guests) I did get to Pemaquid once.
I used to spend days in antique shops and flea markets and at auctions and antique shows. Since I now sell antique prints only out of my home, by appointment, and still have a large inventory, the only antique show I went to this summer was a show I exhibited in. Now I spend my time in libraries and bookstores and art galleries, since my husband is an artist.
When I vacationed here, I got to know part of mid-coast Maine. Now that I live here as an author I’ve visited schools and libraries from the southern part of York County to the northern reaches of Aroostook County. I have a much wider picture of the state than I did before.
Before I lived here full-time I’d only made brief visits to Maine in months other than July and August. Now I look forward to seeing autumn colors and ice on the rivers and reflections of snow-covered land in blue water. I know a little bit about wood stoves. (My husband has become an expert.) I have bags of “snakes” to put along window ledges to keep out drafts. My wardrobe leans heavily toward flannel shirts, sweat pants, and wool sweaters. I put Christmas wreaths on all our doors and don’t feel guilty about leaving them up until February. (Some people have wreaths on all their doors and windows, and leave them up until April.) I open champagne when the first crocuses appear.
I loved vacationing in Maine. But there is so much more to Maine than Vacationland. Living here? ‘year ’round? It’s the best.
It took me a few years to live my dream. But, every day, I thank the fates that brought me here — to vacation all those years, and, finally, to live where my heart has always been.