At age 88, I feel I am finally and truly a Mainer.

Behind me are an unfortunate accident of birth, which kept me a prisoner for my first 21 years in Massachusetts, and necessary career choices, which, for the next half-century, kept me trapped in New Hampshire and Washington, D.C. During those yearning decades, I may have been “from away” corporeally, but always in my heart and mind I was from here.

My initial taste of Maine goes back 66 years, when I got my first writing assignment as a reporter for The Associated Press – to help cover the 1953 session of the Maine Legislature up in Augusta. While the capital city in those days was hardly a mecca for a young, single guy, my memories are sweet: getting to know some wonderful people, starting a lifetime love affair with writing, watching idly as the Kennebec River flowed by, learning of and becoming captive to the startling beauty of Maine.

A dream was born back then, but, until recent years, I had to be satisfied only with bits and moments of it. For more than 30 years, my late wife, Dina, and I were “from away” folks, coming to Maine for off-season vacations and weekends at Wells Beach, taking the kids to Popham State Park, scarfing down mussels pulled off the rocks in South Freeport with our Maine friends, the Glovers.

And later, after visiting our son at the University of Maine at Orono, there were romantic Bar Harbor evenings and glittering sunrises atop Cadillac Mountain. Is there a more beautiful spot anywhere?

A lot, but not enough. In 1996, we purchased a little ranch house in the Moody section of Wells, at the edge of the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge, not five minutes’ walk to the ocean. It was a dream come true, but again only partially.

In order to afford it, we were forced to rent the house for most of the summer season. Still, there was little to complain about. We spent lazy, utopian weeks in promising spring and staring agape in color-splashed autumn. Even frigid winter mornings presented stark beauty along the marsh and shore.

Then Dina got sick. Gradually, her illness forced us to limit our time in Maine. In the years after her death, slowly but surely I realized that the time had come. My path led certainly, and finally, full-time to the cottage near the sea, which I share now with a wonderful woman who fortunately has come into my life.

Having not recently fallen off a turnip truck, I understand that when a dream is realized, reality sets in. This place, in these times, is not perfect. The problems that beset our nation have no less impact in Maine than in my former homes.

But whatever those problems, whatever my life holds for me now and in the future, I know one thing for sure. I am, at last, home.

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