At 5:30 in the morning I didnít think it was possible to even like anything, never mind fall so deeply in love with something Iíve never even seen. It hit me at a tumultuous time in my life. I knew I needed a change but I didnít know what...until I rounded one corner on Rt. 201. The clean blue of Wyman Lake was below me; the thick, full, fresh, green hills ahead of me and low white smoky clouds all around. I felt as though I was suspended, floating in what mother earth had intended for us all. I was instantly infatuated and soon to fall in love.
I barely remember the day I rafted for the first time but it was enough for me to pack up my life and move here forever. Every person I met was beautiful...inside and out. It was the most beautiful collection of humans I had ever experienced. And this town seemed to be the cathartic escape from reality I so desperately needed. I spent the next month experiencing everything possible. I couldnít get enough of the river. I would drive to the Penobscot after work at 10 pm to wake up and do the first half of a double trouble just to drive back to work the front desk. Sleep was not an option. There was too much to see, too many people to get to know, too much to learn too much beer to drink. When I finally called home, I explained to my confused family that I had finally found a place where I didnít have to shower, I had a roommate that agreed that we had to have Bud Light in the fridge at all times, not having indoor plumbing wasnít an issue and everyone understood why the mysterious smell of dirty Fritoís oozed from our bodies. Upon hearing that my mother so poignantly stated that "It was as though the mother ship had brought me home". It was comfortable love. And then I met a boy.
This boy helped me to see even more beauty in the river, in Maine and beyond. We traveled to New Zealand to see as much as we could and continued the exploration in Texas. It was a whirlwind year of river, love and learning. It changed my outlook and gave me more respect and a bit more fear of moving water. Fear set in and irrational behavior followed. It wasnít that fresh new exciting love anymore...it was becoming real. I had to overcome many obstacles in my mind. I learned what a recirculating hole felt like and I learned what heartbreak felt like. Love for the river was lost along with the boy. Luckily I came home to the Forks and the Kennebec reignited my love for the river.
The next two years helped me to balance love and respect and to ignore fear. I met a great group of guys who still scare the shit out of me on the river (literally some days), but I have learned more from them than I could even begin to thank them for. I have fallen in love with each of them and I have more respect for them than you can even imagine. A girl couldnít ask for a better group of mentors and brothers.
Never in my life has a community so touched me, a town so changed me. Iíve loved and lost and loved again. I know that I will always have a home here. It was fate that brought me here and choice that is leading me away. This is my final full time season here (at least for a while) but I can never really leave this place. My connection is too deep and my love is too strong. I want to thank everyone who has touched my life here...good, bad or indifferent. I am forever changed...I now believe in love at first sight, even at 5:30 in the morning.
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