I pick up the cold sweating glass to take a sip, staring out over the dock as a fisherman pulls his net out of the water. I wipe the foam from my upper lip and gently place my Stoneface IPA back down on to the coaster. The hum of voices catching up over a drink is muffled by the cooing of jazz from the local band and the seagulls cawing from above. The dogs bark at the lobster boats pulling in after a long day. The air is so salty you can almost taste it.
When I think of home, I think of Portland, Maine in the summertime. As you stroll through the cobblestone streets, you can’t help but admire the brick buildings and antique structures, with green vine falling gracefully down the sides. With every step you take, you are welcomed by a local coffee shop, boutique, brewery or restaurant. You follow the ocean breeze down to the marina to eat a fresh lobster roll, so fresh that you share a smile with the lobsterman as he takes his catch off the boat.
It wasn’t until I moved away from that my heart began to ache for Portland. I took the charming city for granted, convinced myself I needed more than it could offer me. So I left.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying, “you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.” Well, it’s painstakingly true. What used to be a boring little town filled with everyone I already knew is now a magical city that inspires me in new ways every time I come home. Whether it’s the Street Eats & Beats food truck festival with local bands or the summer-long art show along the water, Portland stimulates me to be the best version of me. It lights a fire in me that gets burnt out when I’m anywhere else.
I miss who I am when I’m home. I feel grounded and at peace when I’m walking down the narrow sidewalks of the little city listening to disco music, or when I’m the only human on the white sandy beach that goes on for miles, sitting in the cold sand in the early morning watching the surfers catch the first wave. My creativity is sparked as soon as I cross the state line. Being away feels like a long-term writer’s block, except everything is blocked: My mind feels foggy and I feel detached from my genuine self.
In my opinion, Portland, Maine is one of the greatest cities in the entire country. Yes, us Mainers do have electricity. No, I did not ride a moose to grade school. We like taking the boat out to one of the 4,600 islands off the coast, window shopping at the local boutiques, drinking coffee while we read a book at the ferry dock and dancing the night away in the cobblestone streets while the music echoes off the brick walls. Mainers are funky, passionate individuals who love groovy music, fresh seafood and good beer.
I think it’s important to step away from your comfort zone, to experience an unfamiliar place with new people. You learn a lot about yourself that way. Leaving Maine has opened otherwise closed doors for me and has helped shape me into the young woman I am today. And although I now miss my cozy city, I needed that drastic change in order to appreciate what I had left behind. What used to be a place I wanted to escape, is now a salty, lively place I feel blessed to call home.
Meghan Morrison is a senior majoring in public relations.
Featured image source: Instagram, @visitportland