It’s been six years since I moved here, and I’m ready to confess what I know you’ve been hoping to read: I think I’m in love.
With the coast of Maine.
Given my post-widowhood dating history, I tend to be a bit cynical about love – but the coast of Maine is different. (Admittedly, there are certain days in late February when I would ditch Maine for, say, a Caribbean island. Sometimes one can be in love, and still not be prepared to make a total commitment.)
It began the way most torrid love affairs begin: physical attraction. When we met that first July, there was an undeniable, underlying undercurrent of sexual tension.
The first time I arrived at the beach in Cape Elizabeth, I felt a pounding in my chest. Maine was hot – not in a temperature sense, but in a rugged, sensual way. I found the coast of Maine strong, yet sensitive. The frothy waves pounding relentlessly against the rocky coastline left me breathless. The soft ocean breezes whispered secrets into my ear late at night. It had obviously been seducing other women long before my arrival on the scene, but I found that to be a turn-on.
I was smitten.
The Maine coast in the summertime is just plain sexy. Where else can you go to a business meeting in a skirt and flip-flops? It’s enough to set a woman’s heart on fire. I recall attending a meeting early one September, as I sat there, listening intently to talk of strategies and logo design, I noticed I still had sand between my toes from my walk on the beach earlier that morning. Yes, I could have washed off my feet, but why spoil the fun?
Even though it was years ago, I still recall the feelings of my first official “summer in Maine.” The salty air brought back happy memories of many wonderful seaside vacations in New Jersey, as a child, and later in Cape Cod, as a young wife and mother.
I felt like the luckiest woman alive; I was now living in a self-proclaimed “Vacationland.”
That first summer, I’d think nothing of donning a two-piece swimsuit, throwing on a sarong, and going about my daily routine. I recall stopping at the Mobil station to pump my own gas, and suddenly realizing that, although summer tourists were indeed roaming the aisles of the CVS, I was apparently the only resident walking around town in beach attire. I initially reveled in this fact, but then was a bit disheartened when other mothers in town didn’t catch on to the trend.
Looking at them in their capris, traditional business apparel and L.L. Bean hiking shorts, I wanted to shout, “Hey, we’re at the beach! Haven’t you driven down the street? There’s sand! There’s an ocean!”
I was so excited to have moved here, I just couldn’t contain my enthusiasm that first season.
In addition to a refusal to wear any footwear other than flip-flops, I also developed a lovely new ritual: I’d take my coffee to the beach. Every morning. Even if just for five minutes of quiet contemplation.
One day, I invited a new neighborhood friend to join me. As we sat together on a stretch of sand, looking out at a few distant sailboats, she said, “You know, I never do this anymore. I should remember to do this.” Silently, in my head and heart, I vowed then and there that I’d never take this wondrous place for granted.
I’ve kept my vow, and still sip my coffee at the beach whenever possible, and also take frequent walks there. I’m always awed, always amazed, and frequently proclaim aloud, “I can’t believe that I live here.” Maybe part of it is because I moved here to heal, and the ocean was my salvation, after having experienced the depths of despair.
All I know is, Maine makes me happy. I may complain about the lack of an expansive dating pool, or the fact that there is a disconcerting quantity of flannel in circulation at certain times of the year, but I think I may, indeed, be in love.