Friday, May 25, 2012
In Portland Maine, it's always 7:10 on Congress St.
What do you call the sister of the person to whom you were once married? When I was married to Pam, her sister Terry was my sister-in-law. Now I'm divorced from Pam, so what is her sister's relation to me: former sister-in-law; sister-out-law; sister-in-law-no-longer? Damned if I know. Anyway, a week ago my ex-wife - at least there's a phrase for that relationship - and I drove up to Bar Harbor, Maine to see our daughter. She's almost finished with school at the College of the Atlantic, a very small institution of higher learning located in the incredibly - no outrageously - picturesque village of Bar Harbor. The subject of her senior project, as anyone who follows this blog and pays attention knows, was on the psychology of theater. It included a mission statement and then directing a production of Edward Albee's The Zoo Story in the fall, and writing and directing an original play in the spring, that demonstrated the premises of her project. The original play, My Very Own Flag, was presented last weekend. This was the occasion opportunity for Pam and I to go visit Holly, the College of the Atlantic and Bar Harbor. Pam's sister, Terry, who lives in Vermont, wanted to join us, so Pam made arrangements with her for Terry to drive to Portsmouth, NH, where she would park her car, we would meet up with her and continue on together from there. All of which we did.
On the way back, mid-day Sunday, we stopped in Portland, ME, for lunch. My friend Lenny, who lives in Portland and who I enjoy getting together with whenever I'm passing through, if he's around, had taken me to a place called Hot Suppa, on Congress Street. It figures that I wouldn't remember the name of the place nor where it was. I don't know the neighborhoods of Portland, and whenever I exit Interstate 295 there I seem to get all turned around and can't tell which was is east and which is west. I knew it was near an intersection I once passed while misplaced in Portland about a year ago and I sort of remembered how I got there. I completely surprised myself by being able to find the place without a hitch.
The district is an interesting one. It's the borderland between Downtown and Parkside. There were lots of restaurants and bars on Congress and and around the corner on State Street. There are large mid-Nineteenth Century brick homes on both sides of Congress, some of which are deserted, some in a state of occupied disrepair, some lovingly maintained and at least one is being renovated from the grounds up interspersed with gas stations, free-standing convenience stores and chain pharmacies. The narrow side-streets are lined with frame homes of similar vintage to the brick's on Congress, on narrow lots, some with porches, some with stoops, in a similar array of maintained and not maintained. Walking around in the sunlight on Sunday, I saw this clock, and I knew that somewhere in Portland, ME it's always 7:10.