Marissa Does Portland - The Return | Community Spirit

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Marissa Does Portland - The Return

In June of 2006, I came to Maine for the first time. A city girl with a fear of insects and grass stains, I was sure I would turn and run away, choosing skyscrapers over mountains.

At the ripe young age of 18, I was on the college hunt. The University of New England in Biddeford had struck my fancy, wooing me with their interesting professors and boasting of beautiful beaches. I admit I had some reservations about retreating even further north as I have always suffered from an aversion to the cold. But, I figured a quick peek couldn't hurt.

And it didn't. As I crossed from the New Hampshire borderline, greeted by the Maine State sign that reminds you that you're about to enter "The Way Life Should Be," I was hooked. That year, Maine and I began what will become known as the greatest love affair of the 21st Century. My former flame, New York, will never forgive me for my disloyalty (we're still friends, but it will never be the same).

Maine and I spent four glorious years together. And now, the bright lights of New York have lost their luster, my affinity for gang violence in Newburgh (my hometown) has faded*, and the blacks and greys of concrete and stone are not as colorful as I remember them being. I have since allowed for hiking boots to accompany my heels in my closet, I have traded my subway card for a beach pass, and I am less afraid of bugs now and more afraid of fast drivers (p.s. obeying pedestrian laws in Maine has nearly gotten me killed a dozen times when I employ  them in New York absent-mindedly).

I graduated from UNE this past May and on a whim decided to see the world. I hopped on a plane and moved to Cairo, Egypt for two months. Afterwards, I backpacked across the Middle East and surrounding areas for a little over a month-- touring Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Cyrus and Turkey. I was able to see the most beautiful and exotic places in the world. I saw suns set behind sand dunes. I watched a meteor shower in a moonless desert sky. I swam in the Mediterranean ocean and watched religious people swarm to their houses of worship in Jerusalem.

However, when all was said and done and I had to return to reality, Maine called me back with its welcoming-- albeit cold-- arms. And despite all I've ever seen, Portland is among my absolute favorite places.

And now, here I sit, a proud Portland resident.

What I love most is that Portland is a metropolitan area with a delightful rural tinge. You can buy a beer at an obcene number of bars/pubs, eat at world class restaurants and find a cab at any time of the night any night of the week. But at the same time, homes and farms and friendly people dot the city, lending it it's charm. Portland is large enough to be busy and exciting but small enough to remain quaint and romantic. However, even if the city were dirty and decrepit, the people in it would keep me content. 

As Mike Webster-- one of my favorite Mainers-- explained to me: Portlanders are "like a grinning child who has taken two candy bars from the bowl that says 'please choose just one;' they embrace the unique qualities and seem proud to know what an interesting city they get to call home."

I hope this city comes to know and love me as I it. This blog is my way of offering Portland and it's inhabitants a way to look at an old, familiar city with a fresh new set of eyes.

*I'm sarcastic. Please find me funny, not insulting. It will make my writing far more enjoyable and me far more endearing...


Want to check out my thoughts on other random topics? Check out my blog at: Shambling After

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