Living permanently in Maine is a dream come true. For over 40 years I vacationed in and around Wells, Ogunquit and Kennebunk. The trips began when my parents came to pick me up from the Massachusetts camp where I’d worked for the summer. Instead of turning around to go home, we made our first trip to the southern Maine coast.

That was all it took to start our family love affair with Maine. Parents, aunts and uncles, brother, sister-in-law, kids, friends: Each year the vacationing assemblage would involve some or all of these folks, and each trip deepened the love we all had for this remarkable state. Lobster. Beaches. Quaint shops. L.L. Bean. Fried clams. Rocks. The natural beauty that surrounded it all.

The excitement was palpable as we crossed the Piscataqua River and saw the “Welcome to Maine” sign. “We’re here!” I would shout. And when the time came to leave for home after our week in Maine, a sadness akin to genuine grief would grip my soul.

I have lived in Wells for six years now, and I am happy as a clam at high tide! I live in a wonderful community, have wonderful friends, volunteer, work part-time and celebrate numerous opportunities to experience the culture and beauty of Maine.

Yet, as much as living here full-time is a joy, I have discovered that I rather miss being a tourist. Unless I have visitors “from away,” I seldom do the “touristy” things anymore. Walking the Marginal Way followed by chowder at Barnacle Billy’s was a must-do when I came on vacation. Browsing the shops in Kennebunkport and visiting the Nubble Light were some of the things I just had to do year after year. When I glimpse certain sights or eat at certain restaurants, happy memories of times spent with family and friends pop into my head, bringing wistful smiles.

It’s easy now to get into the routine of everyday life and forget that those things I did as a tourist are nearby, waiting for me. So many times in the past six years I have been driving along Route 1, going to the post office or the grocery store when I think, “I ought to go walk the Marginal Way before the summer crowds arrive, or before the weather gets too cold.” But I don’t. It will be there next week. I’ll put it off for now.

When we live in the middle of the place we love best, we tend to take it for granted. I have come to the realization that being a tourist doesn’t mean I have to come from far away to appreciate all the things I love about Maine.

Being a tourist, I believe, is a state of mind. Sometimes it involves planning ahead. Other times it will be spontaneous. But all that I love is right here, so I am going to try my best to become a resident tourist, recapturing the wonder of living in the state where life is, indeed, as it should be.