Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Leaving, and leaving

Going out of town for two weeks, I shut off my Windsor Park list subscription, and boy, did my life become peaceful, my thoughts untroubled, my heart limpid as a tidal pool. So I'm going to remain unsubscribed and let the shriekers shriek. That means that, unless someone forwards it to the list, the essay I'm going to post -- a piece that just appeared in the Texas Observer about our move to Maine -- will be read by only a dozen pairs of eyeballs, which is just as well.

The piece begins like this:
For the eight months that we’ve lived in Portland, Maine, casual conversations have leaned a lot on the preposition “from.” As in, “Where are you from?”

We’re from Texas, my wife and I reply.

“Where’d you move from?”

From Austin, we say—though on the mental maps of Mainers, it sometimes seems there are only two places, Maine and not-Maine. Texans, New Jerseyeans, Samoans: We’re practically the same, because we’re not from Maine.

“Oh, you’re from away,” people say, offering that newcomers may bear the stigma of that condition for at least two generations. “Wait for summer,” they say. “You’ll love the summers.” We did, and we do.

Along these same lines, “because” has become a frequently employed conjunction, as it introduces a lot of jokey answers to the question, “Why did you move to Maine?” Because I wanted more fleece in my life. Because I look great in long johns. Because I wanted to pay state income tax.

The real answer requires pulling more rope off the spool...

It ends like this:

Austin is home. Austin is still home. It’s always been an island of possibility in the middle of a forbiddingly foreclosed sea. That’s why people go there, and that’s probably why it’s so difficult to leave. But I’m discovering an underappreciated fact about islands, and about Austin: They’re great places to be from.
The full piece, in its glory, is here.

1 comment:

Bonnie Prince Charlie said...

Are you back yet? And, in addition, are there any jobs for Mac support people in Portland? :o) We visited there in 2003or 2004 and loved it.

(BTW, I think our/your old neighborhood is about ten minutes from the airport too. If you drive fast and make all the lights.)