A few years ago, when I announced I was moving to Maine, I was generally greeted with one of two reactions.

The first was simply the state’s name repeated back to me like a question: “Maine?!” my friends and relatives puzzled.

The second, much more common, response went something like this: “Maine,” someone would say pensively, “I always wanted to do that.” It was as though I had just announced I was going to climb Mount Everest or sail the Seven Seas. Maine seemed to have some strong hold on their collective imagination, viewed as some sort of feat or accomplishment instead of a destination.

Now, taking leave of this state I’ve called home these past few years, I find myself thinking back to those reactions and wondering perhaps if I should have paid them more attention. You see, upon moving to Maine, I imagined it to be a place of exquisite solitude and escape somewhere along the lines of those described so beautifully by one of my literary heroines, May Sarton, who would have turned 100 this year.

For years, Sarton’s journals and poetry volumes have lined my bookshelves as I’ve turned to them again and again for inspiration when my own journaling ran dry or when the latest poem was rejected: “I have believed from the start,” wrote Sarton, “that it would be possible to go on growing indefinitely as a poet.”

Over and over again, in such simple yet eloquent prose, Sarton found her muse in the isolation and solitude that Maine’s remoteness seemed to provide her, both in physical distance and, perhaps more importantly, in the collective American psyche.

I, on the other hand, who had romanticized it more than I should probably admit, came to discover that perhaps Sarton’s sometimes self-imposed solitude wasn’t exactly the kind I was looking for.

Yet I think the Mainer in May Sarton would have understood my need for a different kind of solitude. After all, she experienced many different solitudes of her own — some of her own choosing, some imposed on her by society, chauvinism or homophobia, and even others by illness and age.

Unfortunately, I had to miss her centennial celebration in York, as I had to hit the road heading south earlier than I thought.

But wherever I am, May Sarton and Maine won’t be far from my mind. Why? Because, well, to live — or to have lived — in Maine is to learn powerful lessons about yourself. And perhaps that’s what May Sarton has been trying tell me all along.

Ed Corley is a freelance writer and former director of development at the Frannie Peabody Center and until recently was a Portland resident.