From Away

I landed my stuff in Maine because of winter, hoping for lots of snow.

In Maine, the four directions are: upriver, down state, over to home and from away.  I’m from away.  I’ll always be from away and I’m ok with that.   I’m a traveller, a gypsy by nature.  In my early adult days I moved on average, three times a year.  Some moves lasted a year or two, some were seasonal, winter rentals, and some were quick ones.  Those early moves were in ever widening circles of New England, peaking one summer when I circled endlessly between Cape Cod, Southern New Hampshire, Northern Vermont and here in Mid-coast Maine, never staying in any one place for more than three days straight.  A year later I was on the west coast, until five years ago this month, when I did a big, cross-continent move from Vancouver Island, BC. back to New England and Mid-coast Maine.

I get jazzed by movement and I really enjoy packing up, moving, settling in and exploring a new area, finding the things I need.  Packing gives me a chance to hoe through the accumulation and reassess the value of stuff I lug from place to place.  I’m good enough at it that the last movers I hired for the move from BC to Maine nearly offered me a job.

Some places, houses, communities have been, for me, more comfortable than others, places where most people would chose to put down roots and build a settled life, places where my tribe might be found.  I made very conscious choices to leave those most comfortable places, knowing that I did not want to get stuck, even in (or maybe especially in) a comfortable place.  As a result, there are several parts of my world I consider home places, that resonate, but I don’t have roots there.  Added to that is a twenty-four year stint as a tour director when my ‘home’ was a couple of suitcases for six months of the year and I realize, for me, home is an inside job.

With all that, a part of my toolbox  requires a base, a place to set up the sewing machines, a place to store the materials, a place to collect myself.  I conceived of this landing (grounding? maybe….) in Maine as I downsized, sold my house on The Island and thought to try living with a smaller footprint and closer to the land.  Lucky for me, Ann was amenable to me taking over two thirds of the garage and transforming it into a studio and living space.

So, five years ago this month my stuff arrived from BC, a couple of weeks after Mozart and I completed our road trip on the Trans-Canada highway.

The truck parked at the bottom of the drive and Ann shuttled the movers (Alberta driver and local helper from Bangor) in the pickup truck.

Construction, the fine work of our good neighbour Don, was underway and I leaped into action choosing windows and doors and making decisions.  It wasn’t until March that the stuff actually got moved more or less into the space, just in the nick of time.  Warming and a major rain started the snow melt and localized flooding in the garage.

All my stuff not meant for the kitchen fit into Ann's bay of the garage

Downsizing from a three bedroom house all to myself to a two room studio/ living room and loft bedroom has been an ongoing exercise in organization.  Luckily I have three very big closets upstairs and a coat closet downstairs that help.

In the five years here I have discovered that, while I appreciate the gardens, I’m not a field worker.  I miss my big, well-appointed kitchen in Cumberland and the sunny and beautiful bathroom there as well.  I miss living in town where I could walk to the post office and the hardware store.  One way to view here is that it is central to every place one might go but that really means that every errand is thirty minutes to an hour’s drive in all directions with here as the centre of the circle.  I put off going and the reasons to go accumulate.

On the plus side, costs are down by being shared.  I was on the leading edge of the economic downturn, and the move has been good for that, especially since it encompasses a career transition as well.  The transition has been bumpy but Ann and I now have the best of both worlds, I think.  We both like our own space so it’s like living alone most of the time with sharing of kitchen and bathroom and having someone around to bounce ideas off and share the more difficult chores.  I like music to set my mood and she prefers quiet so I have my iPod shuffle to enhance my cooking forays.

This is a great area for good food.  Ann keeps a capacious vegetable garden and we agree on food quality.  Most everything is organic and most shopping is done at the Belfast Co-op.  Lots of our food is local including the best yogurt I’ve ever had and great local tofu.

My studio space is a woodland retreat; the view out every window is of woods and the wooded hill behind.  In summer it’s surrounded by cool dense green, dark and serene.  As fall progresses the light changes and the leaves drop and there is more light even with the lessening hours of daylight.  It’s a good (albeit small) space to be creative.  Living in the woods, mostly alone, paradoxically allows me to feel closer to people, generally.

So is this home?  My stuff is all in Mid-coast Maine, gradually getting rearranged to some hopefully optimum configuration and I spend most of my time in Monroe these days.  I am not integrated into the community and I find myself feeling most comfortable with the idea that this is my base of operations and I am passing through.  To locals I am from away, but if you ask me, I would say I am from Earth, and my ‘here’ is much bigger and not ‘local’ at all.

Mozart and Murphy, aka The Little General and Captain of the Palace Guard, keeping me safe.

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One response to “From Away

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