An “old” childhood friend of mine, David Barter, happened to find me on Facebook one day when he saw that I had written a novel that was recently published. David and I had lived on the same road in Woolwich as kids. I moved there from Bath after my parent’s divorce when my mother and her new husband built a new house on the other end of Montsweag Road. It was about a mile way from the Barter’s home, which was nothing then by ‘country’ standards.
With only a handful of kids on that road, David and I soon became friends. We zipped around on our bikes together, played hide-and-go-seek, and stayed outside until well after dark as children did in those days. We rode the same bus to school, from elementary up to high school, and shared the kindred spirit of all outlier students who were eventually bussed back into the Bath school system. Not once since those high school days, however, have our paths crossed as he and I grew up and went our separate ways. I moved to Atlanta for my husband’s job, and he eventually moved back across the old Carlton Bridge to settle with his family in Phippsburg.
When David learned that I would be back in Maine this summer, he and his wife Katrina offered to host a book signing for me in their home with wine and hors d’oeuvres and a full spread that would have rivaled that of any chef’s. They invited their neighbors; friends whom I could clearly see have become a great part of their lives. They all laughed knowingly and patted each other on the backs, full of smiles and good cheer; it was a wonderful evening that I felt privileged to share. The Barters and their friends are a true example of the Maine spirit that lives and breathes inside of Maine natives; the spirit of connectivity and compassion, of grateful giving, and of a thoughtfulness that I’m sure folks from other states will swear that they also have, yet the Barters are proof that Mainers have it and much more.
Ironically, my own family and I had unknowingly driven past the Barter’s home numerous times as we headed to Popham Beach during our annual summer pilgrimages back to Maine. Yet the real irony in this story it tied to the theme of my book that “Sometimes, everyone just needs to let go.” Through a family tragedy, my main characters are forced to learn how to let go of their past, of holding onto control, and of the pain. Entitled Falling Through Trees, it’s a story about sisters, family secrets, and learning what can be the most difficult of life lessons, that of moving on.
Most if not all writers write from their hearts and through their own experiences, and there were pieces of my own past that I needed to let go. Yet the fallout of that was I lost touch with good people and old childhood friends in the process. I was reminded of that through a lovely evening spent in the Barter’s home. Seeing my childhood friend again after all these years showed me that although some things should be “let go”, there are equally as many things that we need to dearly, and forever, hold onto.