All righty, then!
It’s Tuesday, but, lest you think it’s just any trash day, allow me to enlighten you. On this date in 1988, a UHaul truck followed by a midnight black Chevy Beretta, bearing between them three cats — Archie, Arwen, and Brandee — as well as all of our worldly possessions that could be made to fit, including the Compleat Submission Manuscript of Carpe Diem, our third novel — crossed into Maine.
Eventually, this modest caravan would arrive in Skowhegan, where we expected to claim the keys to the house we had rented long-distance, and stop by the office of the Skowhegan Reporter, so that Steve could introduce himself to the editor who had hired him, likewise long-distance.
We stopped at the house first, where our landlord — former landlord — let us know that his daughter had left her husband during the days it took us to drive to Maine, and she was now living in the house we had put a security deposit on. He gave us our money back.
Somewhat shaken, but still confident that at least a job awaited one of us, we went to the offices of the Skowhegan Reporter, only to find that the Home Office had indulged in a game of musical editors, which sent the editor who had hired Steve to Virginia, if memory serves, and brought the editor from Pennsylvania to Maine. The new editor was not empowered to give Steve a job.
I’m not sure what we did then. Possibly, we sat in Coburn Park, stared at each other, and petted the cats.
Toward nightfall, we landed in a motel, found a storage facility outside of town, stowed our stuff, bought salads from the salad bar at the local Hannaford, and a bottle of wine, and went back to the little cabin, where our cats were all snuggled together in the bed.
The rest, as they say, is History.
I’ve lived more than half my life in Maine, and I’ll say it’s been good to me. It’s always risky to second-guess history, but I believe that the Liaden Universe® would not have progressed nearly so far, had we remained in the Baltimore-Washington Metro Area. Even back then, rents were stupid, and neither Steve nor I commanded high-paying jobs. It was coming down to each of us having a job and a spare just to stay even, and the partnership, never mind the writing career, might not have survived.
Once we found an apartment, in Skowhegan, we wrote to friends, to give them our new address. One wrote back, exclaiming, “But what are you doing in Maine? I mean, I suppose it makes sense, in case of nuclear war, because it takes everything twenty years to get to Maine.” And he wasn’t wrong.
We did eventually find jobs, weathered the vagaries of publishing, bought a house, wrote, wrote some more, actually saw some of what we wrote published, and weathered the various Things that Life throws at us all.
And here we are, thirty-four years later, still in Maine.
It’s nice when you can look back and say that — there? Yeah, just there? You made the right decision.