Ahhhh … Maine. The way life should be.
We have a history that ties us to this state for decades, but haven’t been able to visit in several years, taking trips around the world instead. But in the summer of 2020, I needed a reason to go on, and nothing perks me up like big travel. So, we started sketching out a three week road trip from our home in Tennessee to Cape Breton National Park in Nova Scotia. We were going to retrace a previous trip from 2006 when our twin daughters were three, revisiting our favorite spots before they leave for college this August. However, with Canada playing it safe and remaining inaccessible for shorter trips, we decided to go full circle and hike Mt. Katahdin, the crowning event of our engagement in 1994. In this last year of my girls living at home, I find that I cannot do anything that isn’t dripping with significance. Their beautiful graduation party was decorated with their namesake flowers and banners made from leftover fabric from their baby clothes. That I made myself.
It’s okay. I see two therapists.
One day after a terrifying thunder and lightning storm as we drove over the Hudson River on the Tappan Zee Bridge, we shopped for groceries and boarded a mail boat to Great Cranberry Island during Hurricane Elsa. Six humans, one dog, three kayaks, and three bikes. Reusable bags were out of stock at Hannaford and the paper bags were five cents each, so there was no double bagging for our groceries. Somewhere on the boat trip, they started falling apart. I lost two red onions and a sweet potato in Frenchman’s bay—I’m just glad we didn’t lose the two flank steaks and whole chicken.
Mishaps aside, I always experience a sense of awe when I travel that I struggle to find in my everyday, and this trip has not disappointed.
We watched a Down East sunrise.
I shopped the tag sale of a well-known billionaire (among billionaires, at least) and found personal letters from NYC investor giants and directors of national parks tucked into the pages of some of these books—that I bought for a few dollars!
I soundly defected from a family hike at Acadia National Park because I was too delirious to avoid a fatal fall off a slippery ledge, and I have the bruises from two not-so-deadly-but-very-painful falls to prove it.
All this, and I have kayaked, window shopped, picked blueberries, eaten lobster, enjoyed late-night conversations and drinks with old friends, and caught up on my favorite pastime—reading. But, most importantly, I am making the most of the last vacation with my sweet girls before they start the journey into their adult lives. And, we still have a week to go.
As a cancer survivor, I have long been aware that time is precious, but nothing could make effable its swift current when it comes to parenting. Hundreds warned me of that, but in my heart, I thought it would go on for longer. I am proud of these young women that I have had the honor to mother, how strong they have been in the face of hardship in the last few years. I believe that I send them into the world prepared to make it a little better than it was before they came into it. Like the best of all mothers, I ponder these things in my heart; dripping with significance, mingled with a few tears.