Category Archives: Maine

Take a letter … Maria?

Is this the party to whom I am writing?

I just got done writing a letter to my older sister. Now, she does not do email. Texting. Facebook. Nothing. If it doesn’t have a stamp on it, she can’t read it. No won’t about it. Can’t.

I remember when I used to love corresponding with different friends. My friend Barbara moved from Falmouth, Maine, up the coast to Thomaston, Maine. Our folks couldn’t drive us back and forth to see each other every day (gasp!), so we wrote.

My friend Sabrina moved a whole 20 minutes away from me one year. We were attached at the hip before then. Agony! And so, we wrote. I think we even “taped” our letters on cassette tapes now and then. Anybody here remember cassette tapes? LOL!

Sheryl moved to Boston for college.

Beth moved to North Carolina for a nursing position.

It was no big deal to pick up a pen and write. In fact, it was kind of fun to find different papers and pens to write with. And I loved going to the mailbox and finding a “real” letter! To this day I am still addicted to different pens and papers to write with. If I go to the store with friends, they know where to find me when I disappear.

And I still look forward to getting the mail, just in case.

But now it’s a big deal to pick up a pen and write. And I don’t know what happened to change things. I guess electronic communication is so much easier, faster. You get a more immediate response. And you don’t really have to think about it too much (whiiich can lead to some pretty bad foot-in-mouth snafus, so be careful!). It’s “short attention span theater” at its finest. Not to mention, I have developed a familial tremor that makes it really difficult to write legibly – it’s work!

So what does one write about in a letter?

Oh, there’s the weather. Work. Church. My son. I also go line by line through someone’s letter to see if there are questions or comments they’d want me to address. (See what I did there? address?) And I always try to write something to make people chuckle. Sometimes I will print out a comic or other kind of picture that will make people laugh, or think.

Ok, so I’m not always funny …

Really, it’s the same stuff you’d say on the phone, I guess. Only I’m not really partial to the phone anymore. Used to spend HOURS! on the phone with friends, boyfriends, people I hoped would be boyfriends …

What’s funny is that half the time I’ve just sent a letter out, and that person calls me. Before their letter arrives. And I’m like, I don’t want to tell you anything! It’s in my letter!

Even though my letter writing is pretty rare, and I type it out in Word and print it to send, it’s still pretty mundane. To me, pretty boring; not much to say.

One year my friend Valerie from ninth grade went to camp. I couldn’t live without her during those brief times that she and her family would go during the summer, so we wrote.

One summer, she ended up passing away while at camp, from a long-standing heart problem. It’s funny (not really funny) because that weekend was the only time that she’d invited me to come join her and her family. Mom had said flat out NO, no matter how much I begged, cried, bargained, and cried some more. I mean, Valerie had never asked before! I was so, so angry! Especially when I found out that she’d died, and I knew that, had I been there, I would have been there for her. So much left unsaid. But thankfully, we had written to each other numerous times before then. We had that. And I know God had His reasons for not allowing me to be there. It still hurts, but it’s comforting to know that He knows, and He cares what I care about.

So where my sister is concerned, even though I’d rather just zip off an email or a Facebook message, I write the letters. Fold them up, stick them in an envelope, stick on the stamp, put ’em in the mailbox. Because my letters to her are her love language. And they are just our way of saying, “I love you. I’m thinking of you.”

And that is priceless. Because nowadays, it’s sometimes hard to say, “I love you. I’m thinking of you.”

The Little Boat That Could

 

I have lived in Portland, Maine, for most of my adult life, and on occasion my father would take my son Tom and I out to eat.

DiMillo’s was one place we went now and then. It is an actual boat on the water that has become a main attraction of the city: a floating restaurant! Great food! A little more money than the average restaurant, but totally worth it just for the experience; and did I mention? Great food!

Well, my father always liked to “treat” whenever we went out. Even when I had a good job, he would insist on paying the bill. I would offer to pay now and then but he would not allow it. Literally.

But I wanted to be able to express my affection and gratitude for all he had done for us over the years, and I realized that the only way I could do so was to be a bit sneaky. So one night he invited then-10-year-old Tom, and I and a few others, to DiMillo’s, and the plot was hatched. I was going to pay the bill, whether he liked it or not!

So, soon after we’d arrived and been seated, I excused myself “to go to the rest room,” and sought out our waitress. “No matter what he says or does, I am paying for the check,” I told her, and I gave her my debit card number in advance.

Well, come time to order, my father leans back and says, “get whatever you want.” My son Tom, who’d come to love lobster, decided to order not one, but TWO lazy lobsters. Lazy lobsters are one whole lobster taken out of the shell and served with a generous amount of butter and who knows what-all; it’s delicious, and at the time it was $25. a pop. “Tom,” I nearly hissed, thinking of my poor debit card, “I think ONE lazy lobster is sufficient.”

“Oh, no,” said Dad, patting his stomach and throwing an arm across Tom’s shoulders. “Let him get what he wants.” He smiled. I smiled. Tom got his two lazy lobsters.

Afterward, there was a full round of dessert. Coffee. Dad finished his last sip of water and looked around for the waitress. Took another sip of what was now cold coffee and grimaced. But not because of the coffee. Tom, full of lobster and ready to go run around on the wharf, was oblivious. My wallet was crying. Dad continued to crane his neck looking for the waitress.

Finally my father, visibly upset, got the waitress’s attention. “We’re WAITING on our CHECK.”

Beaming, and winking over at me, the waitress says, “The check’s taken care of, Sir.”

“WHAT?”

Her smile faltered a little. “It’s been paid. Your .. your daughter …”

He turned flashing eyes on me. “You did not.”

“I did.” I was smiling, but having a hard time holding it in place. He REALLY was not happy. I could tell by the look in his eyes.

Tom, oblivious, hopped down off his chair. “We ready to go?”

“We sure are, honey,” I said.

I’m still not sure that I did the right thing. I was proud to be able to “provide,” for once. But my dad really never liked that I’d done that. It was HIS job to take care of his baby girl, not the other way around.

I’m falling for you, Baby …

Ok, perhaps that’s a weak title, but I’m hoping it’s win-some enough to win-some readers. Besides, my original title was a mis-heard song lyric, and no one would have gotten it anyway. In my estimation, lame is better than “just plain wrong!”

But I digress (as always).

Much to my dismay, someone on Facebook posted a photo of the first Fall leaf they’d seen in New England this year, and it’s (checks watch) August 6th! Really??

“Heaven help us!” I thought. “Will Winter be soon upon us?”

And then I remembered. I don’t have to worry about Winter anymore. I live in the great State of Florida, where oranges grow and tourists flourish!

Back in Maine, the prospect of Winter had grown more and more dreadful to me each year. Emphasis on the dread. The previous two years had really outdone themselves, with record snowfalls and frigid temperatures.  So in the Summer of ’15 I said “Nevermore!” and got on a fast track of getting rid of my things, literally giving away most of what I had, and keeping just enough to fit into my Ford Focus. I just could not take another snowstorm, another head-itching hat, another “you’ll be towed if you don’t move your cah!”

And I had known for a while that God was moving me on. It wasn’t just the weather. It was my heart. So I started making plans for my escape. I was Florida bound! And here I am! I arrived in Jacksonville in October of last year, and have not had one regret.

Okay, maybe some. I miss my friends and family, my church, the Spring and Summer in Maine. Susan’s Fish and Chips. Amato’s Italian Sandwiches…

Doesn’t it always come down to food, lol.

Besides, Winter here in Florida is COLD! But it’s worth it, it’s worth it! Not bikini weather, but that’s okay; you won’t see me in a bikini this side of glory anyway! Ok, ever!

Then again, I’m not living in the Southern part of Florida. Some even tell me that Jacksonville isn’t Florida. It’s fine, I believe I’m where God wants me to be. I’ve found a good church, some writing buddies, and some good friends. God is good.

But having seen the picture of that red spotted leaf, I have mixed feelings. I have taken so many pictures of Fall colors; I adore the smell of those leaves, the proverbial crunch underfoot, and the first few nips of cold on my nose. I went through the same pangs of regret when I heard about the flowers up there this Spring, the many hikes and activities, and the Summertime blue of the ocean. Yes, there are beautiful beaches here, but they’re not like the rocky crags of Maine, her pebbled shores, and the ice ice cold of her waters. Here, there aren’t many white sails, lazy fishing boats, and lush green islands rising up against the horizon. It’s pretty, but it’s different.

So if I sound a little sappy, indulge me, if you will; it’s rare. Most of the time I’m really happy with being in Florida. I finally get my Florida Orange license plate! I get to be that irritating tourist behind the wheel! Finally I am where I’ve wanted to be for so many years, and God has been so good to me! I enjoy the adventure of “I’ve never been there! Let’s go!” And of finally giving in to God’s will.

But I don’t plan on getting over the things I’ve left behind. I miss my BFF beyond measure, and other friends. My church “Up North” cannot be duplicated; I wouldn’t even try.

And those Italian sandwiches…

xo