How I came to Maine

Newspapers’ newest news contributor’s story of moving east
Posted:  Friday, August 10, 2018 - 7:30am

The story of how we came to call Maine home this year is actually four stories.

The first: I almost moved here once before. In October 2002, I was in Lewiston, interviewing for a job as the Sun Journal's night managing editor. I knew nothing of Maine — I was an itinerant Texas kid living in California and had not, to that point, even been on the East Coast. But the paper had a strong reputation, the job was a good one, and I was young and single and able to go, if it worked out.

It didn't work out.

That was no fault of Lewiston, or Maine, by the way. It was just a byproduct of my youthful myopia. I couldn’t muster a willingness to leave a place I loved in California, so I sent my regrets to the hiring editor before I even got on the plane home.

A few months later, the Sun Journal approached me again about the same position. This time, I said yes. And then, a week or two later, I said no and stayed in San Jose. The editor was frustrated with me (I didn't blame him) but also sensed my inner turmoil. He sent me a graceful email I've never forgotten. "The same sun rises everywhere," he wrote.

I forgot about Maine, to the extent that one can. In other words, not at all.

Story No. 2: In October — must be something about that month — of 2016, my wife, Elisa Lorello, and I alighted here on our honeymoon. The coast beckoned, and we answered. We spent a night in Portland. We went to Lewiston, just so I could see it again and tell my bride the story of the job that wasn’t. We ate as many lobsters as I could fit into my mouth. And as our whirlwind week took us elsewhere — New Hampshire and Vermont and back down to Long Island and a flight home to Billings, Montana — we played what-if games. What if we moved to the East Coast? What if Maine, which had so moved our hearts that glorious week, became our home?

What if?

Story No. 3: Late last year, as our fanciful dreams of moving East became more urgent — Elisa grew up on Long Island and yearned to be closer to family — I dove into research about where, exactly, in Maine might make the right home for us. I fixated on two areas: the Midcoast and the more populous corridor between Portland and Lewiston. I became acquainted with every available property in our price range in Androscoggin, Lincoln, Knox, Sagadahoc and Cumberland counties. And I made a fortuitous cold call to an agent at Newcastle Realty in Damariscotta, Debby Schling, who was courteous enough to call back and began compiling properties that fit our particular needs.

In February, we made a reconnaissance trip, just to assess the various areas we were considering. We met Debby at her office. "My husband said, 'Maybe they'll buy the first property they look at and it will be a short day,'" she said. "I told him I don't think it's that kind of search."

It wasn't a short day, nor was the next one, when we ventured to Lewiston and locations farther west and looked at properties there.

But guess which house we bought?

Story No. 4: We're now here in Boothbay. It's home.

We don't know many people yet. We have a couple of friends who live in Maine, and it will be nice to see them more frequently than we have in the past. We love Debby, of course, not just for what she did for us but also for the friend she has become. I know a few people in this state from my newspaper days (that’s a small world). And now I’ll be writing stories for the Register, which I figure is just about the best way there is to meet folks and get to know the rhythms of our new home.

One of the great things about being here, and one of the reasons we know we chose well, is that Mainers have made us feel so welcome. They are, as Debby told us, “wicked nice.” (They have much in common with Montanans in that respect, so again, it felt like home from the get-go.)

We were fortunate that the work we do allowed us to choose where we live. Elisa and I write novels, and I do other work that simply requires an airport and/or an Internet connection. We could have gone anywhere. We chose Maine, and specifically this slice of it, and we couldn’t be happier.

Maine will be a nice home. I thought so way back in 2002 but couldn't pull the trigger. In 2018, when I might have thought the opportunity was long gone, here it came again.

We’re grateful.