Thursday, August 26, 2010

I Can't Wait to Move to Maine — Allison Piper

My family has had connections to Maine for many generations. My great, great, great grandparents purchased a large plot of land in Franklin, Maine along the shore of Taunton Bay, about an hour north of Belfast. I would come to Franklin every summer as a child and it holds a very dear place in my heart. Whether it was the lobster "races" across the farm house floor, watching the harbor seals watch us off the bow of my great uncle's boat, or the arts and crafts I would engage in on cool, foggy, rainy August days, visiting up Franklin was a highlight of my youth.

I grew up in the rural suburbs of New York. While a very beautiful place, it felt terribly stifling to the teenage me — just not the right fit. When searching for colleges, I visited NYU, but even though I had been sneaking down on the Greyhound to visit for a few years, New York was just too much. Too dirty, too busy, too scary. The second round of searches took me to Boston. I've been there now for eighteen years.

My mother and step dad moved to Franklin while I was in college. She has been sending me newspaper clippings on Maine's forays into social libertarianism and on how badly Maine needs dentists since I started applying to dental schools six years ago. If you'd asked the me back then whether I'd ever move to Maine, I would probably have looked alarmed at even the question. But over the last two years, as we had to decide whether we really wanted to raise our future kids in the city, as we had to deal with the litter and the crowding and the thump-thump bass beats of car radios outside our window, and the absolutely astronomical cost of real estate, my firm resolve to remain a Bostonian the rest of my days started wilting. When Lindsey's family decided to make the greater Belfast area their home, it was all over.

Now I'm finishing the last days of my five week dental student internship at the Penobscot Indian Health Services outside of Old Town and I am happy to say that I'm in love — with dentistry and with Maine. There were a few key moments that captured my heart. One was stepping out of my car one morning at the parking lot outside of work early on during my internship. The rich, blessed scent of pine trees greeted me and caused such a joy in my heart I can't even describe. Then, every day during lunch, I would walk a couple of blocks down to a beautiful reservation park overlooking the Penobscot River. What a simultaneously calming and rejuvenating way to spend my hour between the morning and afternoon sessions! I am slightly pained now at the idea of this coming September when I return for my last year of dental school where I will be spending my lunch hour in the bustling, mostly treeless "Combat Zone" of Boston.

Then, last but not least, there were my visits to Belfast. The drive from Bangor alone, down Routes 9 and 7 across the rolling, farm-dotted hills and mountains (including Piper Mountain west of Newburgh) made me happy enough to go. But my mid-coast destinations sealed the deal, whether it was the ocean view from Belfast City Park, the panorama laid out before me after hiking up Mt. Battie in the Camden Hills with the promise of many more adventures to come before me, or the equity meeting where we set our April ground breaking drive and all of the cooperation and good communication that never ceases to impress me at our meetings. Oh, and of course there was the wonderful, spontaneous cookout at Sanna and Alan's, foretelling Common House meals to come and visits to see my beautiful three month old nephew, Yukon, right next door in Morrill.

So as I'm packing my bags to head back to Jamaica Plain, I'm doing my best to remember that I can enjoy each and every day between now and then in that great city. We have many wonderful friends there that we'll sorely miss and I'll never again be surrounded by the kind of daily, enriching academic melting pot that is Tufts Dental School. But I can still hold in my heart the little joys and promises that I now truly know await me in Belfast. I will be there before I know it.

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