Written on July 4th, 2017
I currently sit in a car I’ve been cramped in for too long. Making my way from mid-state Maine to the coast of Connecticut. I must say, the experience was out of my ordinary.
With no disrespect, I never expected to find myself in one of the northern most redneck counties. People riding on quads to get to the only gas station within a fifteen-mile radius. Endless fields of crops and pasture that often smelled the car of sweet country manure. Random gunshots ringing out from the deep forest. Not a trace of phone reception to be found.
Living in the city of San Francisco for the past four months is really what made me feel like a “fish out of water” while I spent time in Maine. However, the experience was rather rewarding and something that will come to my mind from time to time. I seceded out of commotion and into the silent peace that is the Eastern most part of America. The rewards were that of nature’s beauty and the culture shock I hadn’t intended to witness.
It began in Farmington’s downtown area. After stumbling around for coffee and buying the novel A Clockwork Orange, I started noticing my environment. First, it was the accents. Some mix between your classic southerner and the faint hint of a long lost Bostoner. Quite unique. Then there was the appearance of the locals. The good majority wore camouflage hoodies and shirts with baggy jeans below. Women included. When I came upon a game shop, I commenced in finding some hipsters. They were different from the city hipster in their more relaxed and less-of-a-care attire. Still, they seemed all the same at heart.
Being that it was the night before the fourth of July, a group of locals and I had to be a part of the local firework celebration. It’s one of the few days out of the year where all these people get together. It’s also where I inherited (for just a moment) the charisma that is Farmington’s culture. When one exists so far away from the rest of civilization, he/she just doesn’t give a damn about the rest of America. Nor their culture. Farmington’s way of life is not only unique in its purity but also, surprisingly, controversial in certain regards.
Everyone seemed to have an idea of who everyone else is. With a good amount of them getting drunk, their ideas of one another just so happened to caress my ears. Luckily, the drunken slips were simple enough and usually came about the topic of sex.
After taking a look around, I began picking out a lot of young parents. By young, I mean almost all the parents look fresh out of high school. Once I mingled around, I began learning more. Turns out there’s this tendency for the local men to impregnate the women while so young and, inevitably, settling down just where they’ve always been. The outer edge of America.
In one instance, a 22-year-old man knocked up a 14-year-old girl and had two more children by the time she was seventeen. It took me by a storm that the father never used his shotgun. Then again, it became another drunken excuse to settle down. For cousins were even discovering love and this to me seems a little too far out for my taste in life.
The culture shock was one thing. But then it got me wondering. Since this is such a small town in the middle of nowhere, did anyone ever really get the notion to find happiness elsewhere? Everyone I met seemed to have lived in Maine their whole lives with no intentions of elsewhere. From the old to the young. Soon enough, I realized the situations they placed themselves in (such as the above-mentioned story) wouldn’t have allowed them to.
What was for me a trip out of nowhere was these people’s lives. And when you finally come to a place so isolated from society, you begin to think how much everything happening in the city really matters. The people of Farmington were doing nothing more than the people in the city. Merely existing on a plot of land they found themselves incapable of leaving.
And to that, I believe that when I return to the city, I won’t think too much about merely existing.
Photograph by: Paul James