I’ve lived in Tenafly for my entire life. It’s a small, safe town with a great education system and I often ponder, “what more do I need?” However, many people find themselves trapped in the social bubble that is Tenafly, including myself. Summer is the optimal opportunity to leave, and my family’s escape route is a ten-day trip to Steuben, Maine.
My family’s ties to Maine began in the 1970s when my paternal grandparents purchased land there and built a cottage. My grandfather—who at the time was a European history professor at Bucknell University—wanted a personal office as far away from any undergrads as possible. For my grandmother, my father, and my aunts, it was their new vacation home. My dad’s love for nature was born in Maine. He would hike countless trails, fish nearly every day, and skip rocks until the sun went down. Maine was so special to my father that he even proposed to my mom there atop “whale rock,” the name of which is self-explanatory. As a child, he knew that he wanted his kids to enjoy Maine too, and we’ve gone up to Maine each summer since I was a newborn.
Our annual excursions there have given me time to relax, reflect, and recuperate. I can spend hours (except when the mosquitos are out) sitting on the rocks and just looking across the bay. The serene sound of the waves moving is perfect for thinking about my past year. I look back on moments I regret when I made a poor decision or when I didn’t make a decision at all. It also provides me with a time to regenerate my energy supply, and when I return to Tenafly I feel fully charged.
A few years back we bought our first canoe. Each year, we travel all over the bay searching for new rocks to sit and eat PB&J sandwiches on. Hearing the water’s smooth movement as I row with my paddle is so soothing, and as odd as it may seem, it’s my favorite part about canoeing. Canoeing in Maine allowed me to realize the amount of freedom I have up there. I can canoe whenever and wherever I want, and while I do prefer canoeing with my dad, knowing that I have that kind of freedom pleases me.
Up in Maine, we use our phones solely for the use of taking photos. This aspect of Maine has taught me how to take a break from social media. I don’t have to keep in touch with my friends, or constantly post photos. I can enjoy talking to my family or watching the sunset without the distraction of a Snapchat notification. It’s one of the beauties of Maine that I don’t have to worry over trivial manners back home, and instead I can enjoy a peaceful life up north.
My favorite tradition in Maine, though, is our annual lobster bake. Every year, my dad gets around twenty lobsters from local fishermen. We then set up a campfire on the shore, boil the lobsters and cook corn as well. My Aunt Deb, who lives in Bangor, Maine, always comes up and joins us, and sometimes we have other guests, such as my grandmother. After we eat dinner, we rush into the forest around us and find sticks for some s’mores. Once we’re done, we head inside and watch the cult classic Caddyshack on our minutely sized ten-inch television. This night is always my favorite because of how much it brings my family together. My siblings, parents, and I don’t always get along, but we all feel a connection up in Maine that just makes every one of us happier.
All in all, Maine isn’t just my getaway; it’s also my second home. The ten days may sound long, but they go by faster than ever. I still love everything about my life in Tenafly and I wouldn’t ever trade it away. But Maine allows me to take a quick breather and to live like my dad once did.