I have lived in California the past quarter century, but a day does not go by that I do not think about Maine where I was born and raised. I recall the smell of it, the taste of it, the sight of it, the sound of it, the touch of it, the people of it. It is likely that I would bleed pine sap if I were to be cut deeply enough.
Why do I not live there, then? Why do I continue – at least for now – to live on the Left Coast?
Good question. I have asked the same one a million times since 1983 when I moved to Northern California to attend California State University, Chico. I went there as part of the National Student Exchange program. I had been attending the University of Southern Maine for a couple of years, but had an itch to see other places and do other things. At the time that meant moving to California.
Once at Chico State – yes, the same Chico State regularly named as a top party school – I eventually picked journalism as a career choice and for two semesters was editor of the campus newspaper, The Orion. I also was a wildland firefighter during my college days, which was a wonderful experience. For another time and blog entry, though.
I earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in social work, and then began a career working at small and medium-size newspapers. During the past 22 years, I have worked as a newspaper reporter, copy editor, columnist, assistant news editor, opinion page editor, assistant city editor, and Web site reporter. I have covered crime and baby derbies; horrific vehicle crashes and chili-eating contests; presidential campaign stops and beauty pageants; the Blue Angels and flew on the last flying B-24 left in the world. I have been to Africa, Germany and Haiti while working as a reporter.
And then there were the people, some famous, some not-so-famous, some infamous, and some just plain characters. That may be the very best part of journalism, meeting and writing about the type of people who make up our world.
That was part of the draw of staying in California, I suppose. I was doing things and seeing things and writing about things I was not sure I would be doing, seeing and writing about if I was back in Maine. That very probably is not true because I think this country has a very rich mix of people of all types, shapes, sizes … well, you get the idea.
So, for those reasons I have been “from away” to do things, see things, write things and meet people. And in a flash, it has been 26 years. I have lived “away” longer than I lived in Maine.
But for all that time, I have been a Mainer to the core. I am ardent in my love for Maine.
Please come back often to this blog to read about a Mainer “from away” and what he thinks about the native land that he still loves very, very much.