“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan.
Our daughter strode across the stage to accept her diploma. Beth Marie Mason, Juris Doctor Cum Laude, University of Maine School of Law, Class of 2013. Within twenty-four hours of that moment she and her Army-veteran husband loaded their remaining possessions into their vehicles (the military had moved the rest) and headed south, toward their new lives in Florida.
The night before her husband Mike, her sister Katy, stepmom Pat (my wife) and I had piled into a rental car and driven to the waterfront along downtown Portland. We laughed, we drank....
I said a longing good bye to Maine.
Beth was living in Shapleigh when I visited in 2009. The house was an afterthought of a summer cottage set on a Thomas Kincaid-worthy wooded lake. We ate decedent butternut squash soup she'd made and watched DVDs. Her first job there was a place-holder - I was with her when she applied for, and was offered, a banking position she would keep until hours before her law school graduation nearly five years later.
To say the "house" didn't meet construction code was to say the Titanic sprung a leak. She tried to break the lease - the landlord threatened to sue - and Beth wrote her first lawyer letter, painstakingly outlining the property's deficiencies. She won.
She moved into town, within walking distance of her employer. Together we discovered Caiola's, a nearby neighborhood restaurant of such extraordinary fare we returned whenever I visited. I prowled the cobbled streets of Portland while she worked, and in significant part wrote, revised and submitted what is likely my second novel, sitting in coffee shops and bars around town.
I attended a class of 1L Property, recalling my own days in law school. I testified in a mock trial for 2L Trial Practice, and sat in on a terrorism law seminar facilitated by one of the most dour and succinct people I have ever met. At night, episodes of "Top Gear" over fresh fish, or lobster.
My Portland memories belong to that sweet subset of adventures under the heading of "Beth" with the subtitle of her successful law school experience. One of the great pleasures of my life is that she has allowed me to make them with her.