Over the past twenty years, my husband and I have lived in various apartments, condos, and houses in several cities sprinkled across five different states. Every move we made was for school or jobs, and while we liked nearly every place we called home (with the possible exception of a brief stint in graduate student housing, where the prison-cell chic of cinderblock walls was the norm), there was always one place we longed to return to someday: Portland, Maine, the beautiful city on the coast where we’d first met as students and fallen in love.
Moving back to Portland was our greatest wish, and yet it was never possible for us to just pick up and go because we are academics; in academia you go where the jobs are, and there are so few jobs in humanities higher education that to get any position verges on the miraculous. So we ended up in eastern Massachusetts for a decade, and while it was a good ten years, Maine beckoned to us from just up the coast. My husband was working toward tenure, so we needed to be near his university. Portland was just a little out of reach.
And then, in the fall of 2009, something wonderful happened. We both took a semester off to work on writing projects, and we rented a tiny cottage on an island just fifteen minutes from Portland by ferry. It was an island we had visited often when we were young, so we knew it well, but we weren’t prepared for how-over-heels we would fall in love. We spent four months there, from September through the end of December, and I count those months among the very best of my life. Island living is challenging. You need to plan each day carefully to coincide with ferry schedules and tempestuous weather, but if you are willing to put up with small inconveniences, it is a rewarding way of life. The village on our island is tiny, but it has a post office, a few stores, two restaurants, and even a library. It is the only place I’ve ever lived where everyone waves to one another as they drive, bike, or walk down the road, and where neighbors are quick to introduce themselves and invite newcomers to supper.
The island sparked several changes for us. Suddenly we realized that we needed to make our dreams and wishes come true. Since that fall we have moved up to Portland, where I am working as a freelance writer, photographer, and teacher of writing. My husband, now tenured, commutes to his job in Massachusetts a few days a week, and we are saving to buy our dream cottage on the island. We visit it often. In fact I like to take long walks on the island in search of cottages for sale. These are my wishful thinking walks, and I love them because after twenty years, I know some wishes are worth waiting for, and the best ones really can come true.
The Magpie's Fancy was one of the first blogs I started following, for I instantly became a devoted fan of Gigi's writing. And shortly thereafter, a friendship bloomed. She is one of those rare souls who ponders life and all it has to offer, finds pure beauty in nature's treasures, and maintains a peaceful, fulfilled daily life with her cherished husband. I admire her in so many ways. Recently, Gigi launched The Magpie's Pen, a place where she offers "ways to keep your pen moving and your fingers typing" ~ a resource for inspiration and to sharpen your writing skills. I strive to string words eloquently together just as Gigi does on any given subject. She is a poet, a writer, and so much more. Visit her, you will instantly feel at home.
[images by Gigi Thibodeau]