Growing up in Anson, I couldn’t wait to escape. A nearby Carnegie library proved there was a more exciting world out there. A high school so small it took five towns and two unorganized townships to exist was hardly that bigger world. Even then I was living an Eagles refrain: “I’m already gone.”

College in Boston was a different story. “Not everybody looks like me? Thinks like me? Is a Christian? What have we got here?” A party for a wide-eyed small-town kid, naturally. But soon that wasn’t enough, and I was traveling through much of Western Europe and hitting North Africa.

Work took me to a factory in Rhode Island with a diverse workforce a quarter as big as Anson’s entire population, and vacations took me to Australia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. My next job let me explore America. Surprise, surprise: we’ve got a beautiful country, too! Retirement allowed me to see even more of it and further trips took me to Asia. I genuinely feel at home as a citizen of the world.

Yet when I’m on the road now, I’m usually heading to Central Maine.

Anson still doesn’t have a stoplight, Skowhegan isn’t Stockholm, and Colby’s art museum isn’t the Louvre. So it’s not for the attractions. It’s because against all expectations it’s starting to feel like home.

If home is more than wherever you hang your hat, it has to have meaning for you. It can’t just be where you grew up, as anyone who had an unhappy childhood could tell you, or merely where you earned your living, as anyone who had to wait until retirement to move can attest.


I would like to have seen old classmates, caught up, and discussed what “home” means, both with those who stayed and those who left, but missed our 40th reunion.

I miss my family more and more. I love sitting in with a breakfast club I’ve come to know and appreciate the neighbor who plows my mother’s driveway.

On my last visit I unexpectedly met a leftist and enjoyed a conversation about Nicaragua, saw a surprisingly enjoyable local band, and was invited to tea by an antiquarian bookseller and his wife. Heartwarming. Not everything is rosy. The paper mill in Madison that provided a solid living for so many has closed. The shockingly long line at a food bank there made me cry.

A patron in “my” old library was clearly a meth addict. There’s senseless domestic violence and a sheriff’s deputy was recently murdered.

The problems of the wider world that I love so much haven’t left Central Maine untouched.

But it’s starting to seem like as good a home as any, even if I can’t quite explain why.

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

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