This month is a big one for my family. Not only are we celebrating my older daughter’s 14th birthday (HOLLA!) but that very same day marks five years since we first moved to Maine!
I know some of you are feeling abandoned, and for this I apologize. But moving is neither pretty nor particularly interesting. It’s much closer to mourning, in fact, for those undertaking it. Over the course of the past 5 months, I have weeded through the sum total of my possessions, twice. Assessing, analyzing, weighing the merits of each physical fragment of my existence. And with each object – whatever it is – deciding whether it will have a place in my new life. Much of the accumulation has been easy to part with, because it never meant much to me. But the most difficult parting has been with the place itself.
We left Philly on March 21st; my older daughter’s ninth birthday. We said goodbye to our home and everything we’d ever known, the comfort and support of community, and the love of family and friends. We moved to Portland looking for a better life, seeking a place where our children could grow without fear. It has been both easy and hard. The first month was exhilarating, but it was also the loneliest I’ve ever known. Now – 5 months later, I find myself moving with dexterity through once unfamiliar streets, the longing that gripped me months ago blurred to an often distant haze. But sometimes, it just can’t be helped.
Last month we sold our house in Philadelphia. It’s been a very mixed bag of emotions for us all, but especially for me. I get really attached to places. Almost as much as if they were people. I recall times as a child, when we would travel, feeling an almost palpable sense of sadness after leaving not just loved ones – but locations. I still feel that same acute sorrow when we leave our dear friends cabin in Vermont. So you can imagine how difficult it was for me, having to say goodbye forever to our first home. We went back to Philly over the 4th of July weekend, to pack up everything we’d left behind; all the bits that were too big or too trivial to make the initial trek north. We spent the days hauling ASS. And the nights I spent sobbing. While fireworks flashed in the distance, my husband and I toasted our last Independence Day the way we had the previous 7. On the roof of our home. Now a lovely couple are hanging their clothes in what used to be our closets, and showering in what used to be our bathroom, perhaps even cleaning the mildew off the tile I never wanted to clean. And I wish them all the best. But now that they’re on the mortgage, it is time to move on – literally.
In three days, we move into our new house. OUR NEW HOME!!!! And I cannot even begin to tell you all about it. How elated we all are!! To have found something so lovely, so unique, so historic, to call home – is truly beyond description. This new home, this piece of – America. Finally, to plant our roots in the soil, to nourish, to grow and thrive in our new environment, perhaps even to seed…. TO BE HOME. Those three words bring tears to my eyes. So long awaited, so tenderly missed. I love Portland. I love Maine. As much as any place I have ever known. The beauty, the salty kiss of the ocean, the feeling I get in my heart each time I gaze around.. the feeling of finally being Home.
— On Wed, 4/8/09, <email@example.com> wrote:
So, how goes your new life in Maine? How's john's job? The girls are making friends and enjoying school?? you've unpacked all the boxes and set up house? Let me know. xoxo
19 days in Portland. and we are settling in well. The boxes are all unpacked (save for those hidden beneath our beds and they DO NOT COUNT), and the apartment is in order. I have to say, coming from a 3 story house I’d never have imagined I’d like any apartment, but I truly love this place. So sun filled and spacious; my plants have never known such bliss. John seems to be enjoying his new job, which is much the same as his old job @ PENN, but w/ more responsibility. The girls are loving their new school. Maddie had her first assembly today – she got to do an African dance w/ her classmates and play a Nigerian rhythm on the drum.
Both she and Georgia have made wonderful friends quickly. The day after we moved in, they were already going to the park w/ neighbors, and Madison had her first play date by the end of the week. Georgia – that crazy 5 year old – already has her first real crush (CANNOT NAME NAMES) and a birthday party to go to next week. Me? I’m having a blast exploring Portland, taking photos and OF COURSE Blahhhhhging once more. Oh, and I’ve gotten a job. YES I KNOW I HAVEN’T EVEN BEEN HERE 3 WEEKS. But Kismet is Kismet.
I’m finding Portland is small. In a good way. Coming to a brand new city, one w/ roughly the same population as the “neighborhood” I used to reside in, is reassuring. I’m walking everywhere and not getting lost. I say hi to people I meet and almost everyone is friendly. Parents from school have gone out of their way to approach me, introduce themselves and welcome our family. It’s been lovely.
And transitioning back to apartment living after 8 years away has gone fairly well. Except that our refrigerator clucks. LIKE A CHICKEN. At random intervals, for no apparent reason, the fridge begins to BOCK – b-B-BB-BOCK. This goes on for several seconds at a time, then stops. As perplexing, is the unknown tenant who lives above us. I have met the 2 college guys who live downstairs. I have met one of the tenants above. But the other tenant on the third floor remains a complete MYSTERY. I’ve met his, or her, girlfriend, who is very nice by the way. But after 19 days in this building, I’ve yet to meet him/her. His/her name is a very unusual one, one which could go either way (boy or girl). And although we hear ALL KINDS of noises from above – I’ve yet to establish gender. I do not want to be so rude as to ask. IS YOUR ROOMMATE A BOY OR A GIRL>>>??? That just sounds weird. [Though between you & me, I am GUESSING it’s a GIRL.] It’s not like I want to force myself on this person and become his or her best friend. I’d just like to put a face to the noises. name. I’ve come home a couple times and/or been leaving, and have heard the door opening upstairs and someone coming out. But they’ve always waited silently for me to enter my apt or depart the premises before coming downstairs. I am seriously considering some sort of SURPRISE! Say, waiting until he/she THINKS I’ve gone in, but really I am standing outside the door w/ a crazy grin.
What do you think?
Once upon a time, about 2 weeks ago, a family moved from Philadelphia to the coastal town of Portland. Since the father’s new work would only pay for a U-Haul (*NOT MOVERS*), the family schlepped all their belongings the best they could in the back of a 26 Ft truck.
The youngest daughter’s beloved goldfish were of course making the trip too,
safely snuggled inside the *protective glass cocoon* of their aquarium.
The family’s trip began swimmingly, fueled by gasoline and a dozen Dunkin Donuts. But round about Marlborough Massachusetts, the mother – driving behind the U-Haul in the family car – began to notice water dripping from the back of the truck. Frantically, she tried calling the father. But the deafening road noise of the uncomfortable U-Haul thwarted her attempts for MILES. By the time the father realized what had happened, the family was nearly to Maine. And soon they were there, opening the back of the truck and confirming their worst fears. The aquarium had indeed shattered and was completely devoid of water. The little girl was devastated.
Until Goldfish #1 was found… ALIVE!!!!!!! After two hours without water, being jostled at the bottom of a glass-laden fish tank, Lil’ Blackie was still clinging to life! The father whisked him TOUT DE SUITE upstairs to the (relative) safety of the only bowl available in the apartment BESIDES THE TOILET. The dog’s food dish. Although shaken just this side of the pearly gates and visibly worse for the wear, miracle fish BLACKIE was still gulping for breath and rallying as each moment passed.
BUT. what of the SECOND FISH>?? What about _SUNNY_?!
Do not lose heart, friends. Despite the fact that Disney did NOT write this one, there still remains a happy ending. Although the initial search for Sunny proved fruitless, and the family believed they would stumble upon her lifeless body beneath one of the soggy boxes, that’s NOT WHAT HAPPENED>. No. B/c as the mother attempted to lift the shattered remains of the aquarium out of the truck, Sunny POPPED out of the inner workings of a DECORATIVE PAGODA!!
Everyone GASPED! And the father squealed like a girl as he giddily ran the fish upstairs. Although Sunny appeared to have survived a blender cycle on Frappe, she was otherwise just fine. After being transferred to the red thermos cooler overnight, by the next afternoon, both fish were pronounced Stunned, but Swimming. And by the following day, they’d been upgraded to STABLE and safely relocated to their new home.
Not so unlike the rest of the family.
YES!!!!!! FINALLY! After my prolonged & totally unacceptable ABSENCE, I am BACK!!!
AND It’s official!! My family & I are now MAINERS**.
**NOTE: We really are transplanted Philadelphians now living in the guise of MAINERS, but I’m giving it to us anyway.
SO HOW’S THINGSS??! I KNOW. It HAS BEEN A LONG TIME< HASN’T IT?? OOoh, I am sorry to hear that. How awful. My next-door neighbor’s dad got laid off too, but then they called him up a week later and offered him another job. Yeah what a crap fest. Good thing he decided not to jump. Huh? ME?? Ohh. well you know how it’s been total craziness the past few months. The whole “packing up the house and moving to a 2 bedroom apartment in a completely new city” thing.
I guess it’s to be expected, but this move is taking a little getting used to. You can take the girl outta Philly, but you can’t take the Philly outta the girl. Right? RIGHT. SO. The first night we arrived. We’re outside unloading the U-Haul. It’s really dark out – we didn’t get here until after 7 – so we’re unloading, and a car sloooowwwwly drives by. Then another. And of course we’re all thinking DAMN! They’re totally casing the joint – just waiting for us to be inside so they can help themselves to our stuff. But then, another car drives by… slowly.. slowing.. to a virtual stop. The driver looks at us.. we look at her.. and.. and.. then she smiles and WAVES! Because people here aren’t thieves. They’re just NICE.
SO>As you can imagine. There’s a whole mental adjustment taking place. No one is trying to cart off our belongings. No one is skulking in the bushes waiting to stick me up or show me his “thing.” This Portland. It’s a whole new world! And, lest I forget to mention, after just one week here in Portland — (hold your breath) — we get OUR MAIL!!!! Can you believe it?! I KNOWOOOO. We’ve only been here a week. ONE HONKIN WEEK. And we’re RENTERS! No matter. Our friendly mail carrier does her job like a PRO. We actually had mail WAITING for us when we arrived.
Back in Philly – where we’ve owned a home for ALMOST EIGHT YEARS, we STILL DON’T GET OUR MAIL
PS: Thanks for that awesome card, Curly babe! Love ya! xoxo
BUT BESIDES THE MAIL, there are some other things I’ve noticed about Portland.
Number One: Portland is clean.
As long as you don’t mind cigarette butts and dog shit. B/c BOY ARE THEY EVERYWHERE. But other than that. This city is pretty clean, at least in comparison to Philly. Seriously, the day before we moved, I had to go to Target to pick up a few things. As I waded through ankle-deep trash in the parking lot, I noted the number of empty garbage cans just begging to be used. Here in Portland, I can’t find a trash can. Not even outside people’s homes. I am convinced everyone here stuffs garbage inside their clothes to keep warm. And this theory isn’t just crackpot. NO, it’s backed up by HARD EVIDENCE. You see, here in Portland you have to pay for special blue *CITY OF PORTLAND* trash bags to put your weekly garbage in for collection. I KID YOU NOT. AND. Not only are these designer bags expensive, but they are EXPENSIVE. $7.50 for FIVE. F-I-V-E. YET, you don’t see dingbats dumping their garbage in random lots – or dropping chicken buckets out car windows while waiting for the lights to change. Nuh-uh. Garbage in Portland “appears” to be a dirty little secret no one wants to air. People hide it away until trash day when they are FORCED to put it out on the street – B/C THEY HAVE TO. THANK GOODNESS for those pretty blue bags.
Number Two: Portland is home to a population of roughly 65,000 – 3,893 of whom are Chiropractors.
On every corner in Philly, there’s either a pizza/take-out beer place or some sort of mini-mart bodega. Here in Portland there is a chiropractor’s office. Sometimes two. On one stretch of Congress Street, I’ve actually counted 3 chiropractors in a row. With another just a block or two away. All this adjustment raises several questions. First. If you are working as a chiropractor in Portland, how can you possibly be making enough to buy trash bags? And Two. What the hell is happening up here that warrants so much manipulation? I’m hazarding a guess with snow shoveling> but . BUT? ANYONE?? Can someone help me out here. Please>?? I am stumped.
NOOoooOoooo!! BUT. I do have some really big news. Bigger than the Taj Mahal. Grander than the River Seine. Faster than a speeding Toot & Scoot.
We are moving. To MAINE. In one month. I kid you not!
Home of snow and lobster, VACATIONLAND, here we come~!