Moose and Fireflies


How does one prepare for the state of Maine? You can’t, for it’s an experience unlike any other. I have traveled through nineteen states, lived in seven of them. But there is nothing quite like the dense backwoods of upper New England.
I pulled into Brunswick on the afternoon Greyhound. I had met Stacy back in San Diego. She ran the cash register at a landscape supply store which I managed. We became good friend very quickly. Spending a lot of time together outside of work. She moved there with the hopes and dreams that so many others before her have traveled so far to see come true. She was a singer and a dancer and quickly became lost in the neon lights and the blinding glimmer of stars that grow from the sidewalks. And like so many, the spark went out long before the flame was able to ignite. She returned home soon after.
We kept in touch through letters and phone calls. She would often ask me to come out and see her, or come out and stay. And then one day when I found myself running out of rope and looking for the next chapter in my life to begin. I sold what little I had and bought a one way bus ticket to uncharted territory.
Brunswick was a very small town. One main street running through its center. There was a bar, a department store, a diner and a laundry mat.
Bowdoin college took up most of the land, it was a massive ivy league school with a beautiful traditional campus. There were dorm rooms surrounding the lush green lawns. And a street filled with old colonial style homes turned into frat houses along what was known as fraternity row.
Stacy and I lived in a one bedroom apartment on the third floor. There were four apartments on that floor. And one bathroom which we all shared. The first floor was an old printer shop ran by the owner of the building.
It was small but cozy. I started work right away with Stacy’s uncle. He owned his own lobster boat and was happy to teach me the trade.
Friends in Maine came hard. I was so different from those people. I had nothing in common with anyone. I would take long hikes all by myself along the railroad tracks and into the woods. I would hike a long the rocky beaches and the hillsides which I found amazing. At night there would be so many fireflies that the entire landscape would be lit up as bright as the Summer sky. And the first time I would come face to face with a moose I would fall in love. The gentle beauty of the animal would almost bring me to tears. I did manage to meet a stoned out guitar player with dreadlocks who had his own band. For some reason we found a connection. He had a roommate that was this insanely loud kid who had been in and out of homes for troubled youth. Crazy seemed normal to me by then. So I found myself over their place more nights than not.
Well it only lasted a couple of month and then Stacy wanted to take our relationship in a direction that I didn’t want to go. We were friends, and she wanted more. In California I couldn’t get a woman to commit to even telling me their last name. In Maine they wanted a walk down the aisle to be their second date. So in a heated argument she tossed my clothes out into the hallway and slammed the door, locking it behind me. She called her uncle up and had him let me go as well. She figured I would have no choice but to return to the west coast, far away from her. I knew no one, was 3,350 miles from home, and it was started to get cold. I had no money and a half a sandwich stuffed in my backpack. I stashed my clothes under the steps at the bottom of the stairwell and walked across the street to the college. I spent the night shivering under the leaves of a Japanese maple.
The next morning I went back to get my clothes and the owner of the building was there. I explained to him what had happened and he told me that he might be able to help. His janitor quit a week before and if I was interested in the job it came with a room. So I jumped at it. I moved into a small furnished studio apartment, right across from Stacy. The look on her face when she opened her door and saw me opening mine was priceless.
I quickly got a job waiting tables at the local diner. I swept floors and empties garbage cans in the mornings and served food in the afternoons.
I started dating this girl who use to come into the diner and study over coffee. She went to Bowdoin and as a rule they never dated the townies. But then again, I was different. I was a troubled writer from Los Angeles in search for my inspiration. (that seemed to work every time). She was very different from any girl I had dated before. She was very smart and literate. She was from a well off family in Idaho. She had a hair cut like a United States Marine, and a body that would make a level look crooked. There was nothing what so ever to hang onto. If it wasn’t for the mattress frame I would have slid right off the bed. It was like ice blocking without the robe.
(Now for those who are not from Southern California, Ice blocking is something us River Rats did as kids to pass the time. We would buy a huge block of ice from the ice house, one with a rope frozen in it for a handle. We would find the steepest grass hill and put a pillow over the ice block, sit down, hold onto the rope and push-off. It was like sledding only without any snow. and if you wiped out, which one would do a lot, it hurt a lot more than fresh powder.)
Anyway, she was like that, only without the robe.
She lived in one of the houses along fraternity row. They threw wild “Animal House” style parties every night of the week. There were always hundreds of people hanging out, drinking, playing music, dancing. We would sit out on the roof out of the fourth story window and drink until morning. They had their own cook who would make you anything you wanted at any hour of the night. It was amazing. They welcomed me in like I was one of their own.
When things would quiet down and we would sit around and talk, I would always feel the urge to leave. They were third and forth year students, working on their masters and their PhD’s. I found it very hard to stay afloat among their conversations. But when they got rowdy, I could keep up with the best of them.
But it wasn’t long before this girl wanted more from me. She was struggling with school work and was contemplating dropping out. She asked me to return to Idaho with her. But I didn’t feel the same way. I loved her fraternity, but I think that’s really what I liked most about her. Right around this time I met another girl. A local. Someone who took me completely by surprise. She was dating the roommate of the musician guy I knew. And when he introduced us, sparks flew right away.
So now I found myself living at the frat house with one girl, and sneaking away to my apartment to meet this other girl who would have to sneak away from her boyfriend. It was crazy. All the while Stacy from across the hall was desperately trying to get me to move back in with her and flying off into these jealous rages. Leaving me notes on the mirror of our shared bathroom. Crazy stuff.
So one afternoon the crazy guy who lived with the musician told me that his parents had a condo in Connecticut and all this time he was supposed to be living in it and attending school. So before they could find out and cut his money supply off, he had to get back to it. I was planning on traveling to Miami the following Summer to hook up with a friend of mine who offered me a roadie job working for his band. So when he asked me to come to Connecticut with him and party for a while before heading south, I jumped at it.
I packed what clothes I had into a trunk, threw it into the back of his car and off we went in the middle of the night. I never even said goodbye. I dropped my key into my mailbox with a note to the landlord thanking him for his kindness and I was gone. I would never again see either one of those women. Although one would eventually come back into my life.
….and as for Connecticut? Well it would change me forever. I would have to once again fight through the crazy, but this time the door that opened on the other side finally led me home. I never would see Miami.

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About paulsdahlman

Born in Southern California, raised on the road and now growing roots in New England. I am on the journey of my lifetime. May the footprints I leave behind form the words to my story.
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