I was born and raised in Maine and I have lived here for my whole life but something I read today made me wonder, is that all it takes to make someone a "Mainah"? Being a Native of Maine is an accident of birth; you either are or you are not, and there is nothing you can do to change it. But it seems to me that being a true "Mainah", native or otherwise, is more of an attitude, an appreciation and a love for Maine and all that it represents. So someone who was born in Maine but can't wait to escape to greener pastures (figuratively speaking)is not a Mainah. When I was much younger, still in college maybe, this was me; I was certain that life would be better in almost any place other than Maine, and I intended to leave as soon as the opportunity presented itself. Clearly, I was not a Mainah at that stage of my life.
On the other hand, someone who moves to Maine "from away" and over time develops a deep love, respect and appreciation for life in Maine, someone who sees wonder in its seasons and geography,understands its people and their ways, and finds joy in even the simple aspects of "life as it should be" that we natives take for granted - such a person, I think, can fairly be called a "Mainah".
Sarah Smiley writes a weekly column called "Shore Duty" about life in general, military life in particular, and recently life in Maine. Her husband is a Naval Officer and they came to Maine (Bangor) on assignment a little over two years ago. I have read her columns for several years and I was curious as to how she would adapt to life here. Well as it turns out, she has adapted very well.
The "Shore Duty" published today was titled, "What's special about Maine", and it was what started me thinking about what makes someone a Mainah. Here's a brief excerpt from the column: "I fell in love with Maine during those first few months in 2008. Everything - from the way the heater smelled when it first kicked on to the boots people stepped out of on their front porch to the puddle of slush they left behind - was endearing." There was much more, of course, but you get the idea -Sarah is clearly smitten with life in Maine.
Then she wrote the passage that started me thinking and ultimately led me to conclude that I disagree with her on one point: "The process of falling in love was complete. I had become one with Maine (though still not a "Mainer" (sic) of course)" I think she's wrong - she is a Mainah in the best sense of the word, and even if they are reassigned and move out of Maine she will still be "one of us" - because she "gets" what life in Maine is all about. And that's what it takes to be a Mainah, by Gawd!
I guess that since I plagiarized from her column it's only fair that I plug her website, so you can learn more about Sarah Smiley at www.sarahsmiley.com - she's "real people" - I think you'll like her.