Tag Archives: nostalgia

The Maine Road


So, in about 168 hours,  we will be sitting in a little cottage on a lake.  There will be mosquitos and no wifi.  Last year we saw the fjords of Norway.  This summer, we will see the sights of Skowhegan, Maine.  We will visit places with names like The Broken Hag and the Good Karma Farm.  We might see Bruce the llama.  We will take a tour of the Stanley Museum to be wowed by the inventions that the Stanley brothers created.  We will visit the towns of Unity, Freedom and Liberty.  We will be on vacation. We will do a lot of nothing which is something we don’t usually get to do.  We will eat vegan in Skowhegan.  We will buy the best bagels in Maine in L.A. (the other L.A., Lewiston-Auburn).  We will have time to hear our thoughts.

Do I seem pumped to hit the road?  You betcha.  I want to travel the back roads and country roads.  I want to stop and greet cows….I alway stop and say “Hi Ladies” when I see cows.  My FHB will be on the lookout for moose, which is not dissimilar to Waiting for Godot.  No Godot, no moose.  The meaning of life, and yet we meander on and on.  My FHB has fond memories of childhood trips to Skowhegan.  It was inhabited by the Akanaki indiginous people who named it for “watching the fish”. He will be hoping for a few bites on his fishing pole, and maybe there will be a couple of teases or tugs and maybe this time, a fish and not just a fish story.

Skowhegan has a history much like many of the towns of New England, battles and conflict, forts and more battles, the industrial revolution and a town that was and probably still is a place where people worked hard to make a living.  One of my FHB’s memories was going to “Shirley and Walter’s” which was a restaurant that served “very American food”.  Apparently, according to my sources, Shirley and Walter divorced and there went the restaurant.  I think it will be nice to see where it used to be….or not.  Seems like at this point in our travels, we see or try to see a lot of places that used to be, that we remember from travels with our families.  Nostalgia will be sitting in the backseat, reminding us of “remember when and where”.

My family spent a lot of time traversing the roads of Maine.  We crossed the border from Canada (when it was easier) at Jackman.  We rode through the 45th parallel in Rangeley.  My father would point out the Echo satellite as it moved across the sky.  Then we would head to the coast, to Acadia National Park and to Blue Hill and stand on the jagged rocks and look across to Paris.  Then I found out that Maine was filled with places named Norway, Peru, Paris, Carthage and Bath as an homage to places I hadn’t yet travelled to but hoped to see one day.

When we travel to Maine, we often talk about our respective summer vacations with our families.  Sweet memories and we wonder, in our conversations of past moments in the remote and touristy places, whether a dark haired boy ever saw a short dirty blonde haired  girl and maybe even held a door, or got in a car and  perhaps looked through the window at one another.  Maine is our destination, but maybe it was our destiny, long, long ago.


Going Home

pexels-photoI think I am feeling a bit maudlin or nostalgic.  There are many writers who comment on the concept of going home.  For sixty-four years I have always identified home as New York City.  I have lived in Massachusetts more than two thirds of my life and yet I still feel, or realize, that I have felt that New York is my home.  This May, it will be ten years since my last parent, my mother, died.  Since that time, I have only been back a handful of times.  More recently, I took some time to really consider why I have been resistant, almost avoidant of going back to visit.  My FHB has never been a New York City fan.  He grew up in Providence, Rhode Island and never yearned to be a part of the city I grew up in.  We would visit my mother on a fairly irregular basis but we never spent a lot of time there.  Extended family and friends still call it home, but there too, we just stay away, despite invitations and opportunities.  There are several older cousins of my father, who still are around and they are in their eighties and nineties. I am painfully  aware that they are the last links to that generation.

My father has been gone almost nineteen years.  His death was sudden, and defined for me the concept of being a half orphan.  It meant that I had lost fifty percent of my childhood responsible adults.  My mother kept going for another nine years and she loved “The City”.  She would travel in by subway until she decided bus rides were easier and she was never in a rush, even if she was running late.  She took full advantage of all that the city had to offer whether it was the New York Philharmonic or the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  She stayed a part of the city scene which kept her vital and engaged in the world.  Then, she too, left quickly.  My sister and I reeling from the loss, packed up her apartment of 58 years, and took what we wanted as memorabilia of a life we shared and moved those contents to Massachusetts. My sister continues to visit the city and maintains a strong connection to the culture.  It was actually her gift to my FHB and to me, that now makes me contemplate a visit and a re-entry to the city that still holds so many memories of a childhood, teenage years and a early adulthood that I had put aside.

“Come From Away” is a Broadway show that my sister wants us to see. She says it is something she believes we would love and enjoy. We have the means and now the motivation.  I love Broadway, or at least I grew up loving Broadway.  My mother would bring us regularly to see musicals.  We listened to the albums and learned the words and sang the songs.  It was magic.  I know I miss the magic.  We watch the Tony awards annually and talk in vague terms of going to see a show.

We live in the safety of a small city which has music, museums and theater.  We take regular advantage of all it has to offer.  It’s not New York.  As winter digs in I know that spring is really only nine weeks away.  We forced some narcissus bulbs several weeks ago and we have lovely white fragrant blooms.  In the dead of the winter, we have spring in our loft.   The flowers of Park Avenue in spring, and the blossoms and green of Central Park as the city comes alive,  are memories I have and I want to make again. As children we used to dress up in coats, hats, and white gloves to celebrate the spring.  I’m not sure those will be in our suitcase but I remember the city being welcoming and open to strangers from all over.  I have a feeling it won’t take too long to be in a ” New York State of Mind”. I’m going home.