Normally I don’t think twice about submitting letters to the editor, but after a recent visit to my sister, I feel compelled to share a recent experience.

We moved to Atlanta from Belgrade Lakes, and I look forward to returning home every summer to experience what makes Maine great. We decided to venture into the Old Port recently to do a little shopping with my 10- and 11-year-old daughters. I was unprepared for the discussions that ensued.

After seeing signs ranging from “Traveling, Broke, and Hungry” to “Need Weed and Feed” held by the people lining Exchange and Congress streets, my two children had many questions. I answered them the best I could, but I was uncomfortable that our “Vacationland” experience was overshadowed by the 10 or so panhandlers we experienced in a two-block radius.

My tween wondered why she should give money to a young, healthy-looking man who wanted to smoke pot, and I honestly just wanted to leave as soon as possible. It was in such contrast to the Portland I remember and wish we could bring back.

After today, I doubt I will bring my children back to downtown Portland. We will stick to the smaller coastal towns that give me joy and make me miss home.

Amy Driver