I’ve struggled a lot over the past month to find motivation to read and write, though I certainly got in some proper cooking and baking. In addition to several other factors, I’ve been feeling trapped in a life without purpose. I didn’t uproot my entire life just to experience that monster called unhappiness in a new mask. Loneliness, anger, irritability, sadness. A whole slew of my old friends have been paying me frequent visits over the past few months. I’ve felt stuck. That feeling is not much of a stretch, given that we have literally been stuck in place since March.
And then it occurred to me. I haven’t left Boston once since I returned from my DC trip for New Year’s. That is such a long time to stay put in one place, especially since a majority of this time has been spent without seeing any of the people close to me. My world has become so small. I go to work, and I go home. On my days off, it is not uncommon for me to not utter a single word to another human.
I’ve just got to get out of here, I thought. Now, I am still taking this virus very seriously, but I felt drawn to taking a drive. What if I just spend a day somewhere new and experience some of that New England summer I was so looking forward to seeing?
Two words: lobster rolls. Oh yes, I must go to Maine and get some of their famous lobster. Portland, ME is only a two-hour drive from Boston. New England is such a compact area. I guess that is what happens when state lines were drawn when the only form of transportation was horses. For a modern day traveler, it means we can reach several other states by car within a two hour radius of Boston.
So with a day off falling on a Saturday with perfect weather in Maine, I jumped in my car first thing this morning and drove North. My first destination would be Bug Light Park, so see a lighthouse. Upon arriving, I walked around the small park, finding a seat with a lovely view of the water. I pulled out the book I brought with me, Eat, Pray, Love. What a perfect book for the occasion! Though only two hours from my apartment, Elizabeth Gilbert’s book is about finding herself through her travels. I, too, was searching for something, even if was mostly metaphorical. Throughout the day, I pulled out the book and read in different parts of Portland, but that time by the lighthouse. How could I not love reading with this view?
As much as I would have been happy to sit and read here all day, I figured it was time to venture to downtown Portland for some more exploration. Downtown Portland is quaint. If the situation were different, I would have loved to hop in and out of the different shops. I suppose I will have to go back when Covid has passed. I did manage to find myself a snack though.
I walked into Union Kitchen and got a blueberry cruller, fitting given that blueberry is the state fruit of Maine. The cruller was so soft and buttery that it practically melted in my mouth. The tang of the blueberry glazed added a pop of flavor. How I wish I could get my hands on another one of these!
With a snack in hand, I found a secluded spot on the pier to enjoy my cruller and read some more. And read I did. Occasionally, I looked up to enjoy the scene in front of me. A few boats passed by. One guy on his boat was grilling up some burgers. I don’t know if it was the smell of the charcoal or the sight of the grilling, but I started to get hungry again. Maybe I should go grab some lunch? I did some here to get a lobster roll after all.
I walked to the Portland Lobster Company, a lobster shack along the water. They are counter service only, so I could place my order and then go outside and eat my lunch on the pier. They are also known as having some of the best lobster rolls in Portland.
What makes these rolls so good? What they do not use is just as important as what they use. The lobster roll came with plump, juicy tale and claw meat dressed in butter with a lemon wedge on the side. There were no unnecessary ingredients. They allow the lobster to be the star of the show. I truly appreciated that. The buttery lobster was a great treat, and then I would get a bite that popped with citrus. This may have been my first lobster roll, so I have no point of comparison, but I don’t know if I could have had better.
I want to briefly discuss the fries that came with the lobster roll, not because they were the best fries I have ever eaten. I’ve eaten fries with more crisp and flavor. However, this was the first time in months I had fried food where it was actually still hot when it touched my tongue, because it hadn’t sat through a car ride. I appreciated these hot, salty fries in a way in which I wouldn’t have imagined a few months ago.
I paired the meal with an Allagash white. I have had this beer before, but I didn’t know this was from Portland. I would love to go to the brewery next time I am in town. The Allagash beer was perfect for this meal because it is light and crisp and didn’t detract from the delicate flavor of the lobster. This was a perfect summer meal.
This mostly wrapped up my day in Portland. After lunch, I walked around some more and read more. I thought about taking a ferry ride to the Casco Bay Islands, but I didn’t want to wait another hour for the next boat. Sometimes the universe just tells you when it’s time to go home. So, I will leave the ferry ride until next time.
I was satisfied with my day; I got what I wanted. I breathed in that cool coastal air heavily scented by salt water. I had some serene walks. I read and experience a tinge of enlightenment as I did. And of course, I got the food I came to Portland for: lobster. I am not pretending that one day of relaxation and sunlight will fix everything I have been experiencing, but it was a bit of the medicine my soul needed.