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Our Road to Maine

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 5:14 PM

I'm no Army brat or anything, but I've probably lived in more places than a lot of people have by the time they turn 26. Here's how I ended up in Maine.
I grew up in Florida, my childhood split between North Florida and the Orlando suburbs. By the time I was in high school, I could not wait to leave. Sure, the northern part of the state has some natural beauty to recommend it, like those sugar-sand beaches:

Spring break 2007, St. George Island
But most of Florida is suburb after sprawling suburb, disgusting heat and humidity that last for months, and tourists and the tacky businesses that cater to them. There are no good cities in Florida — even Miami is only passable, in my opinion. I have no intention of ever moving back to Florida.

So I worked really hard in high school and earned a scholarship to a college in Atlanta, which was a great place to spend four years. Atlanta is fun, vibrant and diverse, but still not my ideal city — too car-dependent. Anyway, my college was full of people from the Northeast. I met a cute New Hampshire boy in a journalism class freshman year, and we moved to a small town in northern Ohio a few months after graduating.

I had never been to Ohio before flying to my job interview, and J had merely driven through the state once. But a great company offered us both jobs, and we were not picky about where we ended up, as long as we could be together (oof, sorry for the cheese). We liked everyone we worked with and really accomplished a lot there.

But by the time we had been there for more than two years, we started getting restless. It was less about our jobs than about the town. It was aging and economically depressed, dominated by chain stores and restaurants; most of the local restaurants were crappy pizza places. We had to drive more than an hour to see any movie other than the huge blockbusters. And I was surprised to find how difficult it was to be so far from our families. We used all our vacation time to go see them, and it was hard to get home for the holidays — we always had to work the day after Thanksgiving.

We missed New England, and we knew we wanted to get "back" there (quotes because I'd never lived in New England). Over the course of several visits, I had fallen in love with the mountains, the coast, the woods, the cities, the small towns and the seasons.

At Fenway Park, sunburned from a day wandering Portsmouth
At Cascade Falls in the White Mountains
The first really promising job prospects we found were in Maine, another state I had never visited before. But we weren't picky about where we ended up, figuring that just about any small-town, suburban or even rural setting in New England would be better than the same in Ohio. The fact that we could live in Portland really sealed it for us. We absolutely love this city: It's lively, diverse (for Maine, anyway), walkable, full of amazing food and local businesses and home to lots of other people who value all those things.

Since moving to New England, we've also:
- Gone to a Red Sox-Yankees game (my first, and it was back in July when the Sox were actually good)
- Visited a new national park (Acadia)
- Spent a long weekend in Newport, RI for our first anniversary
- Spent Thanksgiving and Rosh Hashana with family

In the coming months and years, we're looking forward to skiing, visiting places like Vermont and Quebec, and seeing friends in Boston — all things that will be much easier now that we live here. Moving is a hassle, and I miss our friends in Ohio, but hardly a day goes by that I don't think about how glad I am to have moved to Portland.

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