Stepping out my front door into Tourist-town, Maine is a dangerous mission.
The other day I walked into town to our local “we’ve got it all” store. I heard multiple foreign languages and nearly got run over by a driver with out-of-state license plates. Cars did not stop for me to cross at the cross walk. I bought my husband a sweater in a lovely dark blue color. It had the name of our town on it. Tomorrow I’m going to return it. He won’t wear it because it has the name of our town on it. It’s a tourist sweater. Town-named sweaters are for tourists.
A strange thing happens to Maine in mid-May. On Friday evenings Rt. 1 is jam-packed with cars coming into town. On Sunday night the same road is full of cars leaving to go back to reality.
One of the good things about living in a tourist town year round is that I get to know all of the special secrets. Like where to get the creamiest ice-cream, the coldest beer, and the best-value pair of shoes. I know that it is not smart to try to park in town the day the pirates invade [yes, you read that right – our town is invaded by pirates, complete with pirate ships and cannon fire, once a year] or the day of the pumpkin festival.
I also know that the less-expensive pizza place has the best pizza and if you buy enough pizza there during the world cup that by the time you reach the semi-final games the owner will know you by name, accept the 3 credit cards you bring for payment, and give you free baklava.
As much as we like to complain about tourists, as much as they clog up the roads and make waiting in line at the grocery store a tiresome chore, as much as they make it impossible to get the locally-made pastries for 50% off after 4:00pm, as much as they block our driveway for parades, as much as they drive slowly past any scenic hill, lake, cliff, or ocean-view, as much as they go down one-way roads the wrong way, as much as . . . well, you get the idea. As much as they make our lives a little more complicated, secretly, I love them.
I feel proud to live in a place that people consider their personal Promised Land. I like to see them flock around and get excited over lobster rolls and hearing loon-calls. I like that they want to come to my town and do watercolors across from my house. I like seeing them discover the best pie they’ve ever had at a place where I can eat three days a week and am guaranteed to run into someone I know. I like that they Instagram the view that I can see just a few steps from my door. Maine is a beautiful place and I like the reminder that the tourists bring that it is an idyllic place to live.
What I didn’t mention before about my husband’s sweater, the one that had the town name on the front, is that the other reason he thought it was tacky was because I got one too. Husbands and wives can’t go around wearing the same sweater, even I know that, I just got a bit excited in the store. Mine is dark green and has our town name right on the front. It might be a little bit cheesy, but I’m not returning mine.