A traveler's dilemma
I was in Maine yesterday. Today I’m in Louisiana. The change was and is disorienting. I climbed in a plane. I sat there for four hours. I got up. I walked out of the plane and then out of the airport into another culture, another weather system, another time zone, another way of talking, different flora and fauna, food, history, another way of life.
My mind and body has had a hard time adjusting. I’m not the first to report this sensation, I know. In longer trips it’s called jet lag. But that’s not precisely what I’m talking about. I’m talking about leaving.
I was in Camden, in Mid-coast Maine. It’s a stunning part of the country. I’ve never encountered this particular mix of rock, sea, hills, trees and air anywhere else in the United States. Not in New Hampshire, the only state that borders Maine, or in Vermont, one state over. Or anywhere. Maine is unique. I always fall under its spell when I’m there. In the late summer, the produce raised there is about the most perfect there is. Maine is perhaps the greatest undiscovered food paradise in the US. People know it for lobster, but even without lobster—and I have less and less a yearning for it these days—the variety and quality of the food is astonishing.
I spent my last three days staying at my friends’ house, perched high on one of the hills Camden is known for. It’s an isolated place, and I had their small forest all to myself. I walked among their trees. So much has been written about trees lately, and so much of it is good. I walked the trails on my friends’ property, and looked at the trees, each with its own nobility, and wisdom. How can so much dignity be growing in silence, unobserved? It’s there, for years and years. I feel, looking at them, that they have the answers. They know.
I saw some deer on that high hilltop in the morning and in the evening, cautious and so beautiful I fell in love with them and would have gladly joined them if they’d let me, simply because they are so graceful and lovely.
I left mid-morning. It was raining. I drove my rental car back to where I’d picked it up, and then my ride took me to the Portland Airport. Who likes to travel anymore? I mean the actual traveling itself. I love getting places, being there, to be sure. The process is another matter. I knew it would be a long day. Arriving late evening—if I was lucky.
I was. I arrived in the Lafayette, Louisiana airport very nearly on time. In this day and age of aggrieved passengers with missed or cancelled flights sprawled on airport floors trying to catch some sleep, I count myself lucky. I’m sure there will be payback later.
I hadn’t seen my girlfriend in ten days, and she was a lovely sight with her beautiful smile and kind heart and long silver hair. I walked out into the sticky Louisiana evening but my mind and body were still in Mid-coast Maine with its temperature nearly twenty degrees lower and its humidity not insane like it is here where I live.
Even today, nearly twenty-four hours after leaving Maine, I’m still there. I’d fallen in love with the land again, and I felt disloyal and awkward discarding that place like it was a candy wrapper or a bottle top. My affection for the place hadn’t waned. Yes, I wanted to be in the arms of my girlfriend. But her love is a different kind of love than the love I have for Maine. I gave myself to the place. Then I left it. Abruptly. I’m having a hard time saying farewell in a way that makes sense. I guess life is made up of goodbyes. It’s just that an airplane flight is a cold and abrupt way of doing it.