Portland, Maine was a spontaneous trip. I am still not sure what convinced me to drive seven hours from New Jersey to Portland by myself and stay at an air bnb for five days.
It was March 2018. Travel season just ended and we were gearing up for the enrollment period (I am an admissions counselor for a small, private university). I was beginning to find my confidence and thinking more positively again. It felt like I was beginning to shed off the weight I have been carrying after going through a break up. I needed something, just anything different. So I went to Maine.
The air bnb was hosted by a couple, Jess and Chris. I never met Chris. Jess was the only one I communicated with. Regardless, they were great hosts. I definitely recommend staying at their humble abode on Preble St. in South Portland. It was a small studio on the third floor of an apartment building. The space was cozy, neat, interesting, and minimal. The first thing I noticed was the drapey tapestry separating the space in between the doorway and the main room. It had a cool pattern. Walking through it kind of gave me a feeling of leaving the outside world and entering a totally different space. A space where you can be yourself, where you can be comfortable, a place where you can rest. It might have been my second favorite detail about the studio. By far, the best thing about the studio was the balcony. The first thing I did after waking up on my first morning was walk out to the balcony. The cold air quickly hit me but the chill felt amazing. It was a calm morning. The only sound I focused on were the waves crashing onto the beach down the street from the studio. It was the only important thing at that moment.
Five days, alone, and in a new environment. This was a dream come true. I spent my days walking, visiting thrift stores, visiting interesting spaces, eating whatever I wanted, and gazing out onto the Atlantic Ocean from Maine’s beautiful coastline. The thrift stores in Portland were different from what I was used to. Two specifically stood out from the rest – Portland Trading Company and Portland Flea for All. Portland Trading Company was not actually a thrift store. It was a goods store owned by a tall, sharply dressed black male. He was an outgoing, interesting fellow. He seemed to have a story for everything. The space was in the basement level of a building, with a trendy retail store right above it. The merchandise was made from good quality materials. It was easy to tell these products were made with care and attention to detail. Clothes, books, journals, pens, shaving products, and many more items were for sale. I left with three journals and a sew on patch (I always try to support local, individually owned businesses). Portland Flea For All was a much bigger space. It literally had anything you could think of. Want a new, old couch? It was there. Need an obnoxiously big mirror? Buy one there. Need some fishing poles? There. Are you looking for a large, terrifying, crying baby mask? Yup you know where to go. The number of items in this place was almost overwhelming. I was amazed at the owner’s ability to shop for that many things. The idea that all of those items came from different people from different places and each had a different story of how it arrived there, was also something special. Side note, I specifically remember a sign on the window before I walked in. It read something like “the owner is the daughter of an immigrant”. Very cool sign. I walked away with a new, old dark olive green patagonia fleece jacket. I wonder who wore this before me? what was he/she like? what was his/her story?
The Maine coastline is indescribable. Specifically, Two Light State Park and Fort Williams Park. Looking out into the ocean felt like looking out into forever. The sound of the crashing waves was hypnotizing. I only felt calmness at this moment. The only thing on my mind was gratefulness for being given the opportunity to even enjoy a moment like this one. It helped me remember, there is more to this life than what I have at home.
I am not sure why but I walked away from this trip less broken than when I started. I was reminded that it is okay to be alone. I was reminded that it is a big world and I am not even close to seeing everything it has to offer. There is a whole world out there for me to explore. This was the beginning of a change in the tides. Nothing extraordinary actually happened during this trip but it will always hold a special place in my heart.