My week of isolation over, I've officially returned to the land of daily toil. There is a certain amount of groundedness to be derived from the daily routine, no?
Here in Maine, the summer season is about to kick into full swing. I confess I'm a little apprehensive. It happens every year around July 4th weekend and continues pretty much nonstop until Labor Day. This summer is special because I'm no longer at the store every day. I'm theoretically free to come and go as I please, although my mind is never quite free.
As those of you who live in tourist destinations may be aware, the arrival of tourist season is rather like the arrival of the locusts. Where I live, we go from a population of 910 to easily 3,000 people.
They all love the area as much as I do, and many of them have a decades-old history with the place. So when they arrive, they immediately claim a certain amount of dominant familiarity that sometimes borders on... arrogance? They're re-starting the clock at precisely the moment they left last year, and we're left to behave as if the last 11 months never happened. Locals freely trespass on these people's property in the winter, peeking into windows, using their beaches, cutting down their trees for firewood, and then they feign complete benevolent ignorance during the summer. Altering their dog-walking routine so that the summer folks can think their "private property" signs actually work. (What a shock to discover that sad truth when I transitioned from summer person to year-rounder. What? You mean everybody knows my supposedly secret, sacred spots?!)
You can see it played ouy on the roads, too. We go from Subarus and pickups to Volvos and too-clean BMW SUVs. They either speed and tailgate and honk impatiently, or they play Farmer John and drive the Volvo at 15 miles per hour because, goodness knows, everybody here is retired, on vacation, and otherwise has nothing important to do.
And that's the ultimate problem, managing the peaceful coexistence of people who are working fulltime and those who are on summer vacation or - in the case of the independently wealthy - on permanent vacation. The locals depend on these people for their livelihood, yet they often despise them for what they see as a life of ease and comfort. And the people from away (PFAs as we call them) distrust the locals implicitly, routinely malign them to one another ("These people just aren't educated," one person actually told me), and yet they depend on them to take care of their cherished summer properties.
Never have I lived in a place with such a stark line drawn between the haves and the have-nots.
Likewise, the dos and the do-nots. It's a challenge to be around nothing but people on vacation and to NOT be on vacation yourself. Not just anybody but very dear friends and family members with whom you want to play. So you dance the dance and do your best and then poof, Labor Day arrives and they all quite suddenly disappear. And after all the annoyance and frustration and challenges, you feel genuinely sad and just a wee bit like a kid left behind at the fair.
So there you have it. Another summer in Maine!