I just got back from a week in Maine with my kids. I’d not clapped eyes on them in person for eighteen months, due to various scheduling issues, which was way too long, not doing that again. I wanted to spend my (milestone) June birthday with them, in whatever form their work and school schedules allowed – none of them works a regular 9-5, and one’s a nurse on night shifts in a hospital, which seems especially grueling to me, although she’s not complaining.
Anyway, the three kids living together in Maine moved from a tiny townhouse to a regular house in the woods outside Freeport, which meant I could stay with them for the first time – guest bedroom and everything! The kid still living in D.C. drove up, so we were all under the same roof, and it was delightful. I gave the Maine Crew most of the furniture from our old life, and so the house doesn’t look or feel like something cobbled together by broke twenty-somethings. It was really lovely to see all the old familiar furniture, dishes, artwork, etc. in its new life, augmented of course with their own purchases and given their own stamp of personality.
There’s an interesting connection between Maine and New Mexico, perhaps because Portland and Santa Fe are artsy / funky towns of a similar size, with a local food scene, some culture, beautiful locales, outdoorsy stuff going on, etc. I know people who flit back and forth between the two, despite the fact that it’s a hell of a slog. I was unsurprised to discover that a number of folks who got on the plane with me in Albuquerque made the same connecting flight to Portland.
I packed more or less like I had for my trip to Dublin – cool and rainy weather, and if it suddenly got hot and sunny I knew I could borrow clothes for the day. We mostly just hung out and played games and did puzzles and watched baking shows and hiked a bit in local parks so I could be near the water. (I will not lie, I miss the coast.) The kids like to bake and I asked for and got an excellent Red Velvet cake with cream cheese frosting for my birthday, along with homemade ice cream (Santa gave them an ice cream maker for Christmas), and some really sweet, thoughtful gifts.
Two years in, the Great Maine Experiment has been wildly successful. Honestly, I had no idea how well that would work, the three of them living together in Maine – would they get along? Get jobs? Get their lives together in various ways? It could have been a disaster. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, but I’m hugely impressed by everything they’ve figured out on their own, including what they want to do and who they want to be, which is a process that never really ends (I mean, I’m still working on it.) Tobin (the RN) has always tended toward practical self-sufficiency and known her own mind, sometimes annoyingly so, but the twins … not so much, especially with the arrival of COVID. The amount of stuff they’ve learned to do themselves (car maintenance, power tools, yard work, fancy cooking techniques) blows my mind a bit. Also, D.C. kid is starting a new, awesome-looking job this week which we celebrated. It’s so much fun watching the four of them grow into their own ways of being, as young adults.
And me? Jury’s out! Lots of introspection going on over here … I spent the first 30 years of my life figuring out some major themes and directions. The second 30 years featured A Lot Of Kids and some major plot twists. I remind myself of this as I embark on figuring out this next chapter. I’m exploring the essential, internal conflict that has been a major theme of my life: the desire for stability, safety, “home” vs. a … kind of questing? A wanting that can seem fundamentally at odds with other desires I have. Maybe its’s a Gemini thing, always of two minds. I don’t know, but I’m working on it.