Sam and I had our annual let's-move-away-from-Maine conversation last night.
If I could keep track of such things, I'd be interested to see how consistent our timing is on this from year to year. I'd guess it is always within a few weeks of right now when both of us are tiring of the long winter.
Here is how it usually starts:
I hate Maine. It's so ugly right now. The teacher pay is crap. We could do so much better somewhere else. Somewhere that had an earlier spring.
I always add: I want to live somewhere with more good restaurants. And closer to a major airport. And closer to my siblings.
Sam always adds: We need to live somewhere where I can surf. How about northern northern California?
We usually mention North Carolina, Colorado (no surfing), parts of California, and always end up talking about Oregon. It seems like the place for us. Surfing and mountains and trail running and cool cities. But the rainy season? I don't think we could do that. Plus we don't know anyone in Oregon. But we fantasize about how much better the teachers are paid there and how adventurous it sounds to just pack up and go.
We go around and around like this until one of us says something about the Maine summers. And the island. And the ocean. And the hiking. And the glorious fall! And our friends. And all the lakes to swim in. And how happy our kids are here, and how much of a community we have built here, and how connected we are to the schools. And our dear friends!
Then we get really nostalgic for the Maine we almost betrayed, and decide that we actually love it here, and all we really need is some more money to travel to Costa Rica for surfing vacations, and while we are talking crazy, a governor who isn't going to rob us of our meager salaries by using cuts in teacher take-home-pay as a way to help pay down the state's deficit.
And here is part of what got me mad at Maine: This week we got a bill in the mail for $700 for our 2009 Maine state taxes. I'm not sure what happened or whose fault it is yet (I use TurboTax), but somehow our retirement contributions weren't added into our gross income last year and now we need to pay back taxes for them. It made me so mad. Nothing worse than an unexpected bill in the mail. I just keep thinking (I honestly do) that someday Sam and I are going to get a letter in the mail from the state saying "You both work so hard and do so much for our youth, and we'd like to thank you and reward you with this check for a lot of money."
Just like we get fed up with the muddy snow season in late winter, we also sometimes get fed up with the unfairness of teacher pay and our inability to go on vacations.
You know what would help? A warm day at our favorite local swimming spot. This is all we really need, right?
I've written before about the best thing about living in a place like Maine is that the seasons are all so distinct and intense that you really feel like you have earned the pleasure of warmer weather once you finally get there. That's us right now: earning the rewards we will soon reap.
p.s. I promise I'm not going to complain my way through March. Promise.