Welcome to Portland, Maine

Every single individual I’ve met thinks this is a perfect place to live. What an astonishing endorsement. In New York, where we lived after college, everyone grits their collective, subway-rattled teeth and espouses the same, shitty maxim: The City is the center of the universe and anywhere else is nowhere.

I liked New York, but I never got a tee-shirt. I never felt like a New Yorker. I could make it there, but frankly it was making me mental. I would prefer to live somewhere saner, a place a bit quieter, safer, and less offensively challenging. I don’t want to combat commuter herds and dirty stairs and sticky turnstiles and higher fares and homelessness just to get to work. I like the scale of this city. I like that I can see the water if I look to my right at the end of my block. I like how it looks in the rain, which is important. And I love how welcoming all these Portlanders have been, so far. From our neighbors, also transplants from New York, to the women in my Nia class, to the jovial fellow who sold us a mattress our first day, when we were driving the 26 foot truck we took up from Florida around town, wishes us well while smiling and telling us what a neat place this is to be.

I can’t remember the last time I loved where I lived. I can’t remember the last time I moved to a place because it felt right. I hope it works out as I’ve planned from my living room in Mexico. I feel like I’ve been here before, because I Googlemapped the hell out of Portland, and specifically The West End, when I needed a change of scenery, a break from the heat and the foreignness. There is lots that is familiar, but also much that is changed and brand new. We’re back after being expatriated and feel a little alien in our home land. We’re seeing the same old with new eyes and loving the experience of investigating the streets of the port, its neighborhoods, restaurants and shops. We’ve been out exploring and want to share what it’s like to be returned with others who love Portland, and those who’ve never been. If there is a magic here, I hope that it is catching. I hope that I learn this place and it gets in my bones. I think it might already be.

Photo: lumierefl

Jillian Bedell

Jillian Bedell is a writer and mother living in a farmhouse in Cushing, Maine. She is very good at talking about herself in the third person. She is co-author of Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road. She creates content on the internet, on subjects ranging from summer camps to semi-precious stones to the folklore of food. With Malcolm, Jillian was one of the original "Insiders," for the Visit Maine tourism campaign. She loves telling the stories of her adopted state, finding out-of-the-way places, and people making interesting things. Watching her daughters play in the wild woods and fields of Cushing makes her very happy.

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