Re-entry has not been particularly easy. Yes, yes, I try to keep things in perspective and I realize the folly of indulging in a pity party given my "struggles"-- Oh, poor me, I just got back from ten days in Maine and two weeks in Israel and getting back into my routine is such a drag!
Mostly I frolic in the joy and wonder of it all-- that I get to travel so much, and meet so many people, and do so many cool things. A little crankiness on the return end is a small price to pay. And it'll pass soon enough. I still love flying back into Austin and living in Austin and seeing all my Austin friends. I think the hard part is moving from vacation-head into work-head or, in my current state, moving into look-for-work head. I've gone from knitting and hiking and eating gourmet food all day long, from splashing in the Mediterranean and standing on cliffs overlooking the Atlantic, to sending out query letters hoping to find enough work to keep covering the mortgage. But the good news is, I've already gotten tons of assignments and I'm interviewing for a couple of different jobs. So, as ever, I'm sure I'll land on my feet.
Getting back to the topic: Maine. I wrote at length about part of my trip over at the Austinist.Also, if you want to read more about the knitting side of the trip, you can check out the blog I write for Knitting and Yoga Adventures. Today I'd like to share two brief anecdotes and a (relatively) small number of photos I took both on Monhegan Island (where I stayed for a week) and in Portland, Maine, where I spent one full day exploring by foot and ferry.
The first story is the tale of the Bee Sting. I am allergic to bee stings and the last time (now penultimate time) I got stung, probably eleven years ago, my arm swelled up like a balloon. This time around, I was riding in the van back from Port Clyde to Portland when something flew into the window and hit me. A few seconds later I felt a sharp pain-- a bee had not only gotten into the vehicle but managed to go down my shirt. (I know, I know, can you blame him?) Besides the fact that it hurt, the sting also got my attention because it scared the holy hell out of me as I wondered if I'd be dead in ten minutes because, no, I didn't have an Epipen with me. (The last time I asked a doctor for one he made some dismissive comment about me probably not needing one and I failed to push back harder and demand one.) On the upside, the van in which I was riding happened to have more than one medical professional on board and in no time I was cranked full of Benadryl and in the presence of six deft knitters ready to execute a knitting-needle tracheotomy should that prove necessary.
I called Warren asap and said, essentially, the following important things:
- I might die in ten minutes.
- If I die, please know that, no offense or anything, but aside from not having seen you, my son, the dogs, and my friends in Austin, the previous week had been just about the best in my life.
- I need to go order lunch now, a crab roll.
Warren laughed that I could think of food at a time like that but you know, if I was going down, I was going down well-fed. I also texted my son before getting the crab roll, which was quite nice, and even nicer considering I lived to tell about it. The Benadryl rendered me utterly idiotic and for the first time since I was, like, six, I fell asleep in a moving vehicle. In the end, I was left with a nasty, itchy, hard welt and an even greater appreciation for life.
The second story-- warning, it'll choke you up-- goes like this. 5:30 a.m. in the Portland airport and the JetBlue counter has just opened. I go to get my boarding pass and the dude looks at my passport and says, in a nice Scottish brogue, "Gillespie-- a good Scottish name." I concur, and even tell him what it means (Son of the Bishop's Servant) then inquire if he knits, knitting being on par with brawling in Scotland. He says his sisters knit. And I say, "I just got back from a knitting retreat on Monhegan Island."
At this, the nice Scotsmen stops, looks at me, and then says, "My wife loved Monhegan Island. She was an artist." Though he doesn't emphasize it, the past tense in his sentences comes through loud and clear and I notice he's wearing his wedding band in widower's position, on his right ring finger. And the love for his wife was so incredibly palpable in those two sentences that I about lay down on the floor and cried in that airport. That exchange, like the bee sting, gave me another unbidden lesson about appreciating this fleeting life.
Okay, enough of the stories. Time to look at some pictures: