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Back To Life In Maine

The closest thing to home my kids know.

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BANGOR, Maine- “I am really happy to be back here,” Petra said. “Do you know that feeling when you go back to Uma and Pa’s [my parents] house? It kind of feels like that.”

“You feel like you’re home?”

“Yes, kind of like that. I feel like I’m in a dream and I’m going to wake up in Sofia,” she explained and then paused for a moment. “I don’t want to wake up.”


We’re back in Bangor. This is where my wife grew up and where her family still lives. We had the minion for her grandfather last night. A large number of people showed up. They filled the house.

I always remind myself not to say anything in these situations due to the relatively high probability that I will say something that embarrasses my wife. But I never listen.

People in Maine where their shoes inside their homes. This is something that comes off as extremely unusual when you’re used to traveling in … say … the rest of the world. Even in the most downtrodden places in the most derelict communities you take your shoes off before entering someone’s home — it’s just what people do. But in Maine they are oblivious to the concept. They just come up from the street and walk right in, stomping over the floor that your kids play upon in the same shoes they wear while out stepping in dog shit, pesticide sprayed lawns, or when using the public John. However, germ theory seems not to have spread this far north yet.

I am downstairs in the house that my wife grew up in. There is laughter coming from the upstairs. My kids are happy here. I look over at the floor they were both born on and think about when they were squirted out. Their births were probably the most fun days that I remember. Although I have a vague memory of my wife not having quite as much of a good time …


I haven’t been in the USA for around a year.

I usually hide out when in Maine when I come here to visit. I put my head down and work. I have little interest in what’s going on outside, and this is a good thing.

Many years ago I saw this young woman here pushing a stroller with a baby in it down the street. She was real pretty but she had these really horrible homemade tattoos all over her face — like shit a dumb teenager does with a sewing needle and India ink. I remember the crudely etched biohazard sign on her left cheek.

I sometimes wonder about her — but not enough to go outside looking for her.

In Bangor, I do this for fun:

I go out to Buffalo Wild Wings on Tuesday for their discounted chicken wings. I eat a dozen and a half of them and drink a stack of $2 Tecate beers.

I go to Best Buy with Petra and we play around with the electronics.

I go to the craft beer bar (the one with the feet) on a back street that has the beet beer. Most craft beer tastes regurgitated to me. Feeling cool isn’t worth paying twice as much to drink spoiled vomit — just give me a Budweiser. But for some reason this brewery is actually good. It’s also full of the town’s misfits.

I go to the dive bar on Main Street. It’s a bonafide, grade-A American dive bar — not the trendy “Irish” type. Bars that are purposefully designed so you don’t notice the drunk in the corner pissing himself probably should not have been Ireland’s prime export.


What can you tell about us from this photo?

I watch the NHL playoffs at night with my wife (the CBC really massacred Hockey Night in Canada — the last stand of Canadian culture). We bought Molson Canadian beer just because it had beers with Bruins logos on them. During the day my kids hang out with their grandparents. I took over an entire dining room and converted it into a workshop — tables full of cameras and gear everywhere. My wife’s cousin came to visit from the other side of the country. We play board games. It’s the full dose of what life would be like if we didn’t travel.


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Filed under: Maine

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3717 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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