My daughter was one of those kids who said she was never going to leave home. Though she’d gone to college in Colorado and worked summers on dude ranches, Maine was home.

She was born here, raised in a sturdy ship captain’s house at Porters Landing. That graceful home, with its wavy glass windows and curved staircase anchored by what was once a ship capstan, had sat on that corner in Freeport for over two centuries.

She, like the house, was grounded there. Grounded in its history, in the beauty of the salt marshes. In the love of our family.

In the spring of 2008, a few months before her wedding, she confided she was thinking about quitting her job. I didn’t grab her shoulders, shake her and tell her she was crazy, it didn’t matter that she wasn’t happy, she needed to buckle down and buck up.

I told her what you would have told children like me raised in the blooming post-World War II economy: “Do what you love. Quit. You can always find another job.” My generation had dreams that did not disperse like clouds scuttling before a storm, we had dreams that were like white linen sheets billowing in the breeze.

So she quit. Her husband had a job designing green buildings for an architecture firm in Portland. They owned a house near Willard Beach in South Portland and walked the dogs there every morning. I had faith it would all work out.


Then the bubble none of us wanted to take the full measure of, burst.

By fall 2008, The Great Recession was gobbling up jobs like chickens gobbling grain. He lost his job at Christmas. Jobs for lawyers were rarer than hen’s teeth. They sold their house.

Like thousands of Mainers before them they were forced to migrate for work. Her talented husband has one of Maine’s best qualities: He’s resourceful. He got a job working for a solar energy company in Austin, Texas.

Ten months after their wedding we gave them another party. A going away party. A Thule rack on top of their red Mini Cooper and their Portuguese water dog in my daughter’s lap, they waved goodbye. Everyone was crying.

She called two days later from somewhere in the Smoky Mountains. “Sit down, I have something to tell you. We’re pregnant.”

She didn’t tell me earlier because she knew if she did, she would never leave.


That summer, Austin was one of the hottest on record. Walking the streets one evening and by now seven months pregnant, they decided they didn’t want to raise a family in Texas. Could they come home?

They set up a crib in her old bedroom with the windows overlooking the salt marsh. They found jobs. Eventually, we built a house our son-in-law designed in the woods a few miles from Porters Landing.

Then they built one next door. My husband and I are old now. It’s a comfort having them so close. There’s a little river between our homes. You know how the grandchildren get here.

Meetinghouse is a community storytelling project hosted by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.

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