Writing this column has become such an integral part of my life that I forgot to write something for its sixth anniversary. (This does not bode well for any future marriages.) Somehow, it’s been six years of ranting and raving in the pages of Maine’s paper of record, instead of doing it in my family group chat.

My first piece was published on Oct. 21, 2017. It was the lowest point of my life so far. Dad had just died the month before. Tom Petty, whose music was dragging me through the boggy mud of grief, had also died on the same weekend as the deadliest mass shooting in American history, at the Route 91 Harvest music festival. I was drinking heavily. The future seemed full of gray nothingness. I kept thinking of that quote from the outbreak of World War I: “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

And then a lamp was handed to me from an unexpected source. I wrote a column about the dating app Tinder. And it was received well enough that I was asked to write another piece. And another.

Together, my readers and I – you, you and I – have been through much.

I have a visceral memory of sitting by the window of the old Silly’s restaurant in Portland, finishing up the column on my phone announcing my alcoholism and sobriety in one fell swoop. That was June 1, 2018, the day I got sober. Was I a little insane to tell everyone so publicly immediately? Probably. Did it work? Five years and four months later, I continue to be sober.

This column is older than my relationship with my beloved dog Janey, whom I originally adopted a couple of boyfriends ago and who has been more steadfast, loyal and loving than any human could possibly be.


This column has chronicled several relationships! Will I still be writing by the time I ever manage to find The One? Well, I wouldn’t hold your breath about it. But we’ll see.

You’ve seen me through buying a home. Through my sister graduating from high school, then college. (Next, the world!)

And, perhaps most importantly for my mental health, you’ve all helped me process my dad’s death. I’ve had – have – a lot of grief to work through. I know a high percentage of my writing contains Ross References. But I don’t know where I’d be without this oddly constructive outlet for my grief. And while I love each and every message I get from readers – yes, even the nasty ones – my very favorites, the stars on top of the Christmas tree, are the ones with someone else’s memories of my father. Those are a nonrenewable resource, and as such are precious to me.

The best part of the column isn’t what it’s done for me (not that I don’t love how it’s improved my life – I’m only human, after all). It’s all the things that’s it’s done for other people.

I’m a secretary and I’m pretty broke all of the time. I can’t be as helpful in the world as I’d like to be. But from this space, I can act as a conduit – sometimes people see a need that I’ve highlighted and they give to it.

Take “Operation Buns 4 Buns,” as part of which various readers (most of whom would prefer to remain anonymous) have donated old Playboy and other such gentleman’s magazines and I’ve sold them on eBay, donating the profits to the Good Shepherd Food Bank and the St. Elizabeth’s Essentials Pantry (which is like a pantry for non-food items such as diapers and toilet paper). Over the past year, we’ve raised $1,618 for the Good Shepherd Food Pantry and $1,490 for St Elizabeth Essentials Pantry.


And of course, there was “Operation Get Ridney Of The Kidney,” where I donated my own left kidney a year ago, which triggered process whereby two Mainers got new (well, technically used) kidneys. One of them is still anonymous, and the other one is named Dave. Dave’s wife, Laura, read one of my columns detailing the donation process and emailed, out of the blue, asking if I would mind donating on behalf of her husband, who had been waiting for three years. They are literally at Disney World with their family as I write, untethered from the demands of the dialysis chair.

Other times, the conduit feels more like channeling magic. After all, what is casting a magic spell if not saying words and then things happen? Like when people read my pieces about the Press Herald Toy Fund, which simply buys Christmas gifts for children whose families are dealing with economic hardship.

All I have done is talk about what the fund does and maybe reminisce about my various childhood Christmases, and that has led people, citing my column, to donate more than $25,000. Those are so many toys – so much material goodness – given out based on nothing but my written words. Maybe all of this seems par for the course for The Maine Millennial. But it’s an awful lot more than Victoria from Buxton could accomplish on her own. So thank you, Maine, and my readers from away, too. Thank you all.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:
Twitter: @mainemillennial

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