I was born at Portland, Maine Medical Center, the port city where my parents met and fell in love. My grandmother left Norway to eventually settle in Scarborough, and all but two of my extended families live in Portland and the greater area of Maine: Harrison, Cape Elizabeth, and Kennebunkport to name a few. One of my uncles owned a most fabulous and popular Italian restaurant “The Impastable Dream” in Ogunquit. For the past 27 years, we’ve been vacationing on Popham Beach, a slice of coastal heaven where I’ve been witness to how every inch of that beach changes after a proper, harsh New England winter. I know the nooks and crannies of Matinicus Island, the most eastern inhabited island of the North Atlantic Coast and our family has a camp on Sebago Lake where I used to pick wild Maine blueberries and watch the Songo River Queen go by. I knew what Reny’s was when I could talk. Sometimes in my bones I feel more Mainer than New Hampshire, where I technically have spent all my life, just a half hour shot over the Piscataqua Bridge from the Maine border.
One of my favorite parts about being a hiking and biking guide for my second season in Maine is being able to tell guests all about my experiences here in Maine, to the point where I convince myself that I really am from here. Best way to deflate my credibility and make me feel like I might as well have come from California? Ask a born and raised Mainer, and they’d say, “Dahlin’ahm tellin’ ya just cuz yas bohn in Pawtland, doesn’t make ya from heah. Yourh from away.” From Away puts me on a level with annoying tourists who clog up the Park Loop Road on Mount Desert Island in Acadia in the summer, or who take pictures of all things lobster related but don’t know the first thing about how to eat it. Mainahs just lump every visitor into one category and call us all “from away”. If I’m lucky, maybe I could aim for the “Southernah Summah Visitah” title (which would sadly put me in the mix with all those “Massachusetts people” too).
Which brings me to my point of all this banter: When do you know
you’re really, and I mean, really from away? For me, it was the moment that my high level of expertise in wild-blueberry picking, hard shell lobster cracking, and sand dollar searching was crushed by this alarming welcome to Portland in my first 24 hours:
While I understand that is basically impossible to ever cross that unwavering threshold of “from away” to bona fide Mainiac, I now especially understand that it’s not going to help my case to try and win any local’s hearts this summah in a 15 passenger van with Utah plates and a 1-800 number on it!