As we get ready to leave Maine, I'm like "Damn! Why didn't we move to Maine?"
Maine is where it's at. It's got two turn tables and a microphone. It's all that and a bag of chips......two big bags of dill pickle flavored chips.
We conclude Motherboy: New England Edition by driving through the town of Boothbay Harbor for a look-see. I want to pop into a few art galleries and Liam wants to find a souvenir pocketknife that says "Maine: The way life should be" (as long as you don't piss me off in which case don't think I won't cut you with this souvenir pocketknife).
Liam drags his feet at the thought of going to art galleries but I ply him with the promise of dangerous weapons as mementos (see above).
In the first gallery, it's clear that they are setting up for an event - someone is opening bottles of wine, another person is plating cheese and crackers. I try to be speedy because it feels like there's a party in motion and I didn't get my invitation. But Liam sees chips. "Mom! There are chips!"
(distracted) "Those aren't for us."
"How do you know?"
(still distracted) "Because it looks fancy."
"Can I ask if I can have a chip?"
(don't bug me I'm busy) "No."
(did someone say something?) "Ok."
And instead of saying "Can I please have a chip?" he says "My mom was wondering if this food was for everybody or just certain people."
(now you have my attention) Oh (nervous laughter) children are so precious! chuckle chuckle!
...........and she says, of course it's for everybody. Would you like something?
Oh yes he would. But instead of helping himself to a chip, he grabs a plate and fills it like he's at the relatives' house for Christmas. I jump in for show - make a minor attempt to prove that I'm not letting my kid run around unattended at an art gallery. But what I'm really thinking is, "if he's busy eating Oreos, I can run upstairs and see the metal sculpture exhibit."
Miraculously, we escape without embarrassing ourselves and Liam asks if we can go to another art gallery. "You know" I say, "they usually don't serve snacks at art galleries."
"No. That was a special event."
Ever the optimist, Liam enters the next gallery with the purpose of finding the snack table.
The snacks are back here!
By the painted dog bowls!
And they have ginger ale!"
What?! I go to the dog bowl room and find Liam with a plate full of pretzels, sipping ginger ale, deep in conversation with both the artist and the gallery owner. (Note to strangers: if you don't want to hear our life story, AVERT YOUR EYES and walk away!)
It appears we've stumbled upon an art crawl. Yay! Free dinner! I spend the next hour looking at local art while Liam eats snack food and impresses people with his ability to initiate conversation with grown-ups. It reminds me of a local woman I met at the beach recently; when I said I was from Minnesota, she practically squealed. "I LOVE people from Minnesota! Whenever we're on vacation, and someone starts to talk to me, they're always from Minnesota!"
We spend the hour after that checking every souvenir shop in town (many of them twice - help me, please, little baby Jesus!) for a souvenir pocketknife that I eventually figure out only exists in Liam's head. We get in the car with no souvenir pocketknife that says "Maine: The way life should be." - disappointed but full of snacks. We'll be back, I tell him.
And I really mean it. Just before we left, I read an article in Maine Home Magazine (don't scoff! not only does this exist but it's GOOD! like Martha Stewart meets Jonathon Adler good!); the article describes Maine as a purely positive place - in contrast to the reputations of it's New England neighbors.
That's it, I thought. That explains a lot. I'm like Polly-freakin'-anna sitting in a barrel of sour apples, clinging desperately to the sides of the barrel so that the rotten ones don't drag me to the bottom. And that's why I like Maine.........we're just bobbing on the surface, happy to be here.......the way life should be.
But it's time to go home. So we drive. Coming around a bend in the iconically beautiful country road, complete with red barn placed just so in the distance, I listen to Stevie Nicks sing "Landslide" on the radio for the second time this week. I listen hard because this is not a song you randomly hear twice in one week. Not without a reason. It will be the soundtrack for what comes next.......
As Stevie and I come around the next bend, the most beautiful, idyllic scene unfolds in front of me. The words I use to describe it sound so trivial; it's a bay alive with sparkles. Flanked by seaside homes perched on its edge. Sailboats and schooners and lobster boats sitting in shadow. The words are so dumb, why am I even trying to describe it for you? You just have to trust me.
My mouth literally hangs open. Literally. I actually take note of the fact that my mouth is hanging open. And I scramble to take it in as best I can without driving off the road. I have this momentary panic where I think "What should I do?!" Pulling over isn't possible - there is no shoulder and the road is too curvy. And I quickly surmise that a photo could never adequately capture this scene. It would end up looking like the subject of a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. And that would be a good picture from a good camera with a good lens.........all I have is a camera phone.
Perhaps I can draw a picture with words? That's what I do, right? I use words to tell a story, paint a picture? But........seriously..........I am not that talented. Those words above sound just like that 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle looks.
The panic kicks it up a notch when I realize that I don't even know where I am. I'm just a cartoon car on the purple line of my GPS screen - which tells me where to go next but not where I am. If you don't know where you've been, have you even been there? Does this place even exist or will it evaporate when I round the next curve?
And that's when I let go.
The inability to capture it.
The mystery of it all.
It's somewhere in Maine. Just go with it and enjoy it.......enjoy it hard........while you have it.
And we'll talk Stevie Nicks later..........