And we’ve come full circle

 

What am I getting myself into?
What am I getting myself into?

The photo above is the first real view I had of Augusta. It’s the parking lot of the Senator Inn and Spa, where my future employers put me up for the night when I came to visit.

I snapped that photo out of sheer incredulity, because it was the most snow I’d ever seen in my life by a long shot. I sent it to a friend back home, as if to say, “could my old home and my potential new home be any more of a contrast?”

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the day I made the move here. I stepped off the Concord coach at 4:30 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon, with the sun having already long since set.

I took my first spill of the season last night.

As always, I was on foot heading down to Hallowell to grab a beer after another slamming the door on another week of work. Those two words – “on foot” – haven’t been an issue for months.

But we’ve had a couple of big snowfalls over the last few weeks, and suddenly all those sidewalks and road shoulders I’ve relied on since I moved to my new place in June are gone again.

And as my left foot slid sideways and my 220lb frame headed towards the pavement, before my fall was thankfully arrested by a deft twist of my already creaky back, I thought:

“Didn’t we just have a winter?”

To be fair, though, I’m definitely not complaining (much.) After the first load of snow we got, the weekend of Halloween, I drove to work on the Monday afternoon along my usual route and felt something strange. Something almost nostalgic.

White stuff along the sides of Leighton Road, and grey slush lining Western Avenue, and bright blue skies contrasting with brisk air, all felt so damn familiar. This was the Augusta I moved to, and this is how I remember it best, weirdly enough.

Don’t get me wrong: I loved the summertime. Maine was just as beautiful as everyone told me it would be, and the warmer months were absolutely worth the wait. And weight, if we’re being honest. But I feel like I spent all of spring, summer and fall being awestruck at the change in color and conditions, and learning what the place looked like all over again.

The endless fascination with the white stuff hasn’t gone away either. On Thanksgiving I watched my friend Deanna’s dog bounding through the fresh powder without a care in the world, and I could identify totally. I had spent half an hour the night before making and throwing snowballs on my front yard after getting home from the bar. If I die this winter, it’ll be from exposure due to dumb shit like that.

That eagerness to be out in it has basically been alive since the first night I was here, the night before my tour of Augusta and chat with the bosses over breakfast. After Maureen dropped me back at the hotel for the evening, I could barely silence the little nagging voice in the back of my head saying, “Go for a walk. See if you can find a bar. Stop in and have a beer, and see what this town and its locals are like.”

Had I walked half a mile to the west of my digs, I’d have come across Margaritas, a Mexican restaurant with a bar that’s open until 1:00 a.m. every morning. Seven-tenths of a mile to the east is Applebee’s, where I could’ve found myself on the receiving end of late-night happy hour wings and cheap drafts. I did neither, because after a long day of travel I ended up falling asleep watching a basketball game.

If I’d attempted to walk in either direction, as I discovered a week later when I tried to walk home from the rental car agency next door to Margaritas,  I’d have found myself hip deep in dirty snow and wondering where the hell the sidewalks were. That would’ve been the perfect introduction to what I was getting myself into, in hindsight.

Now that there’s snow again, everything looks just like it did when I first arrived. I’ll never forget the first evening I came to town to meet the bosses at the KJ. After getting back to my room at the Senator after dinner at the Liberal Cup, I looked out my window and saw this.When I first stepped outside my boss’s car outside the Cup, before dinner, I marveled at having to step over what couldn’t have been more than three or four inches of packed snow piled in the gutter and on the sidewalk. She must have seen the dumb grin on my face, and I explained that I’d never seen “so much snow.”

“That’s nothing, man!” I was told. Huh? That’s TONS.

I learned swiftly, of course, that that was indeed nothing. If you’ve been hanging with this blog since the start, you’re well aware. It was one hell of a learning curve, and then after a couple of months it was over. Once it finally started melting, I knew it would come around again, and figured I’d be prepared for it.

Knock on wood, but at this point I feel like I am. I’m obviously in a more advantageous position this time, in that I don’t have to walk everywhere to get around (although I miss that extra cardio.) I’m pretty much all set with jackets and sweaters, and I’ve accumulated enough layers to probably make it through again this year.

Which is just as well, because I’ll need all that padding for my next fall.

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