Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at

I fell in love with Maine, deeply and profoundly in love with Maine, the moment I moved here in the summer of ’89, just shy of my 18th birthday.

Yes, I admit, my head was filled with visions of hand-knit sweaters around a campfire, of “living the good life” in full Nearing fashion. But then again, what else is youth for if not romantic dreams?

And in truth, the dream is mostly what I have found here. My life has had a wonderful assortment of kayak trips, contra dances, waking to loon calls, potluck suppers and concerts in barns – and I have loved every moment.

Of course, I’ve also lived through my fair amount of frozen pipes, staggering isolation and a pretty ominous lack of options for a museum-loving gal who enjoys being surrounded by foreign languages and public transportation.

But then, that’s what true love is, right?

You fall in love, you make choices. You revel in the good times and see the bad times through. If you’re paying attention, you emerge, not just happy to be done with the bad, but with a deeper understanding of your love, and of yourself.


I fell in love with Maine for all the obvious, surface reasons. The way the ocean changes color, the overpowering smell of pine when you walk through a forest in July.

But then, pretty is as pretty does. Eventually it was the deeper stuff – the friends, the community – that made me fall in love for real. During those long power outages and heavy storms, or even summer tourist season, you know that you are not alone. Your neighbors are in it with you.

You might not always agree, but you learn to overlook some things, to forgive others, to make allowances for the rest. You remind yourself to listen, to use your “I” statements, to try to see things from the other person’s point of view and, even when you’re angry, to not say things you’ll regret.

It’s the community I really love. That’s what truly makes Maine home. That’s what makes Maine my great love.

But lately, I’ve been anxious. I’m watching the news, I’m watching our state, and I am anxious.

Our state capitol, along with several other government buildings, evacuated due to a bomb threat? Our secretary of state threatened for doing her job? Angry, violent rhetoric flying about in a blizzard of hate speech? Since when is this us?


What I keep thinking about, and I know this will sound overly dramatic, but I keep thinking about the testimony in The Hague from the survivors of the Bosnia-Herzegovina war, and how everyone said it was so unexpected. How this lovely European enclave that had hosted the Olympics just before, one day awoke to ruin and bloodshed. The sentiment that kept appearing was shock. Account after account spoke of how unbelievable it was because the gunmen who slaughtered their families had been their neighbors. Person after person said the violence had been unthinkable until it was happening.

That particular conflict (which is once again heating up) was based along ethnic lines. But I listen to the rhetoric around me and I wonder: Will we crack along political lines? Is partisanship the new ethnic cleansing?

It’s not unthinkable. In truth, there is nothing special about Maine or the United States. Nothing magical that prevents us from tipping over into that type of violence.

Or, I suppose there is. But it is the normal, everyday magic of choice.

Like any relationship, it is a choice. We choose to be in it. We choose to keep showing up and working for the greater good. Even on days when we’d maybe rather not, because we know that love takes work.

So, no. It is not unthinkable. But neither is it inevitable.

If we choose to keep showing up for each other, to keep listening and all the rest and, most importantly, to not say (or heaven forbid, do) things we will regret, then yes. We will have indeed worked some magic and Maine will continue to be a shining example of “the way life should be.”

I hope we do.

Comments are not available on this story.