Ok… Maine is beautiful. I’m not sure why I’ve never traveled here before, but I will definitely travel here again.
I was a bit of a mess in the days leading up to my departure. There were so many moving pieces to coordinate. But mostly, it was the idea of leaving my girl for four weeks. The anxiety was not hers, but rather mine. I worked at a boarding school long enough to know that teen girls can pass a disconcerting number of days and weeks without noticing the distance between themselves and their parents. I knew she would be fine. Still, my heart ached and tumbled and missed a few regular beats.
And too I felt myself pushing against the question of what life would be like when I returned. There were (are) still so many unknowns, so many moving pieces. I kept trying to sort everything out, to make the unknown known. I kept wrestling with my desire for things to be predictable and decided. But, as I have to keep reminding myself, this is an exercise in trust. I am not alone in any of this. Very little of life, for millions around the world, is predictable and decided at this time. Which makes this a rare opportunity to live in the present, to exist only in this moment.
And so, I got in my car and drove, accompanied by a suitcase full of socks and four weeks worth of groceries. That alone seemed like progress. I had a clear destination and goal. Because we all need something to drive toward (literally and metaphorically).
As the landscape of the cities gave way to the foliage of the northeast, my nerves began to calm. By the time I reached the harbor, the slow build of anticipation had turned into tangible joy. A thick fog enveloped the port and obscured the island. I was, in every sense, setting off into the unknown.
My entrance to the island was memorable. On the ferry, I noticed a small bee mucking about on the deck. It’s wings had been dampened by the thick fog and it was unable to fly. Despite the choppy seas and the pitching of the ferry, it seemed determined to hang on. After some time, a fellow passenger pointed out that the bee had crawled onto my boot, attempting to get inside of it. I gently scooted it away, but it continually came back. On the third try, the little bee curled up in a crease and seemed to go to sleep, and so I let him rest there for the remainder of the hour-long ride. I joined in his determination to get to land. I would see that this little guy safely survived the journey!
Once we docked, I scooped the bee onto the back of my phone so we could disembark. It was trap day, the first day of lobster season, and the pier was bustling with lobstermen preparing their boats. It was a beautiful sort of chaos and the perfect greeting to Monhegan Island.
In the midst of the bustle, my little bee flitted away from my phone. I didn’t see where he went off to or where he landed, but I hoped he was safe. I walked a few steps to meet the truck that would deliver my luggage to my cottage. As I slipped my hand under my coat, I felt it, a quick, sharp sting. I pulled my hand away to see an embedded stinger and I knew the life of my little friend had come to an end. I also knew that in short time, my hand would be absurdly swollen, as always happens when I am stung. And it was in this state that I arrived at the Cracked Mug.
Quaint is not the right word for Monhegan Island. Nor is rustic, though it is both of those things. It’s more like stepping back in time. It wouldn’t disturb me in the least to pass someone on the path wearing a cockle hat and cut leather boots. The island feels ancient. Electricity for the entirety of it is powered by a single generator. Fresh water is limited, sourced from an aquaphor below the island. Most places have it turned off their water lines by mid-October to keep them from bursting. Because it is cold. The sort of delicious cold that forces you to retreat inward, to sleep deeply under piles of blankets and wake with a nose red from the chilll.
There is no light pollution here. At night, it is a deep dark, even with the light of the moon. I feel my body beginning to uncoil.
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