The trip was to visit family. The ride home from these visits has assumed a form of ritual for me. Easy highway driving allows me time and space to put myself back together.

I stop in Portsmouth, a beautiful little city to unwind in. What I do depends on where I find a parking place. There is always a coffee shop nearby and time to walk to Prescott Park on the Piscataqua, a deep and powerful river whose strong currents visible in eddies and small whirlpools leave me in awe. Memories stir in my mind of summer concerts in the park, the full moon rising as the sun sets. Then returning to my trusty Honda Civic, back to the highway. The soaring bridge over the Piscataqua never fails to thrill me. Halfway over the bridge, my eyes see the river and sea to the right and to the left the White Mountains. I smile. Although I have lived on three continents, I have landed in the right place. Maine is my forever home.

For the last lap of the trip, now in Maine, I often choose to travel along Route 1. It allows me time to savor memories while I skirt the coast. I am a water person and have sailed this coast and swum in the bracing waves of many of its beaches. Now, on the cusp of winter, my thoughts go to a dear friend now gone. What adventures we had here.

We would visit touristy York Beach to watch salt water taffy being made in a shop window. The scene was dear to her because long ago her parents brought her here as a little girl. Travelling north, my mind’s eye takes me to Ogunquit, Beautiful Place by the Sea, the sign proclaims. We would swim off that endless sand beach and float slowly down the Ogunquit River as It wound its way to the sea. Further north I see in my mind Moody Beach, where one summer evening we played volleyball on the beach and then all went body surfing with our dogs. Who had more fun was hard to tell. There are few things more amazing watch than a dog confronting a wave knowing exactly how not to get dumped.

In my mind I travel on past busy Wells Beach, my friend’s home beach, then onto Route 9. As I cross the Mousam River bridge I smile again. Looking to the right, I see Parsons Beach with its stately oak trees lining the road, and looking to the left upriver, I imagine I see a spot on the riverbank a 5 minute walk from my house.

I am home. Home with fond memories of a past now gone, but knowing in my heart that new adventures in Maine and new memories lie ahead.

Meetinghouse is a community storytelling project hosted by the Maine Sunday Telegram.

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