I know I’m not alone in wishing my kids lived nearer. It seems like most of the parents I know in my age group have watched their children fledge and fly away, out of Maine, in search of a stronger economy, a less wintry climate, a hipper social scene or some combination of these and other factors.
My younger son moved all the way out to the Pacific Northwest back in 2008, after his dad and I separated. That cross-country move appealed to him for many reasons, but I have to think the instability at home somehow freed him to take such a big step. Sometimes he confesses to missing Maine and the family, and goodness knows we all miss him. But overall he seems very happy out there and I can understand why. He lives in one of the youngest and most progressive cities in the country and has a great job in the tech sector. He has a boat, a truck, a hound dog and ready access to some of the most spectacular backcountry on the planet.
My older son stuck around in Maine a little longer. He transitioned from Orono to Portland after his father died in 2011 and stayed in southern Maine for a few years, helping to look after his Nana and taking classes at the community college. In 2014, he developed a business plan that required a more temperate climate. He made his way to Charleston, South Carolina where he’s currently piecing together an income and living in a small apartment in the historic downtown. He loves this gracious old city and its vibrant young economy and is working to get his bicycle business up and rolling.
I’m grateful both my young men have landed on their feet and are happy in the lives they’re building for themselves. They do come home to visit, most recently for my marriage to Douglas in September, when they spent a little time with a whole new batch of family that is now theirs — including their two step-sisters, Douglas’ daughters, who both live in Maine. There’s time ahead for those new family connections to develop and strengthen, and I hope they do.
I wish my sons had settled here, in the state I adopted 40-some years ago and am glad to call home today. I hope someday they’ll decide to come back. But in the meanwhile, I’m proud of their independence and grateful they don’t feel obligated to keep an eye on me. They’re glad I’ve found new love, that I have a job I enjoy and a comfortable home. Among other things, my social, emotional and financial security means they can pursue their own dreams without getting all tangled up in worrying about me.
And it also means that once in a while, I get to take a little trip to visit them. I haven’t broken it to The Oregon Kid yet, but I’m beginning to formulate a plan for a hiking vacation in the Cascades, maybe in the verdant spring. And early tomorrow morning, I’ll get on a plane to balmy Charleston, where I’ll spend a long weekend with the Entrepreneur, biking around the Holy City in celebration of his 30th birthday.
How the time does fly by.