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12 Signs You Grew Up in Western Maine

by Amber Kapiloff Jul 21, 2015

1. You prefer bonfires to bars.

Growing up, the weekend activities almost always included at least one of the following: getting your dad’s truck stuck on your way out to a pit party, rendezvousing in the park n’ ride to fill said truck with as many people as possible and ending the night by getting high in a field and panicking about outer space. As an adult these activities have only morphed slightly, into bonfires in a backyard instead of a pit, a truck that you own and more educated guesses about outer space.

2. You know all the Franklin County celebs by heart.

Maybe it’s because we’re so far into the woods, or maybe it’s due to surviving this many brutal winters, but the characters that make up Franklin County are pretty priceless — whether it’s Dot from the liquor store (an award-winning Michael Jackson impersonator) or Crazy Joe with his Thought Bridge billboard (“The Rapture is happening Wednesday morning.”)

3. Your teenage wardrobe came from Reny’s and was identical to every other girls’ teenage wardrobe.

Because Reneé’s is the only place to shop in western Maine. Think you’re an individual? Look around. Katie wore those same pants last week. It won’t be until you get your first job working at the movie theater that you discover debit cards and online shopping.

4. When you’re not working, you’re ‘upta camp.’

This Mainer idiom is not an exaggeration. You actually are heading upta camp this weekend and you are wicked excited about it. Others would understand if they knew that camp means not seeing an unfamiliar soul all weekend, waking up to the smell of wood smoke and bacon from the giant stove in the kitchen that you think is your grandmother’s spirit animal, and listening to ghostly loon-sung lullabies at night.

5. You have an opinion in the Rt 2 vs. Rt 27 debate.

Heading south, for whatever reason, is a big deal and you want to get there (and back) as quickly as possible. The route you take matters. Are you an LA driver? Winding your way through the eggy scent of Jay’s paper mills? Or do you go the Augusta route, slamming on the breaks for the 30mph drop through Belgrade?

6. You will tell anyone who will listen about the origin of earmuffs.

Whenever you see someone wearing a pair of ear muffs you launch into a bit of history about their creator, Chester Greenwood. He was only 15 when he thought up this world-altering invention and you share the very same hometown of Farmington. In fact, you used to babysit his great-great grandkids.

7. Everyone at the tire alignment shop knows you by name.

The pot holes and frost heaves out number any lines that should appear on the pavement. You seriously think that your truck might just fall apart some day from bombing your way down the Holly Road so many times.

8. You clipped a moose on prom night.

You weren’t even drunk yet, just on your way upta a friend’s camp for the after party. Luckily you know the drill and no one got hurt except for maybe the moose.

9. Your school had parking spaces for snowmobiles.

The snowmobile trails are as extensive as the regular roads and you don’t really need a license to drive one. Just throw on a few pairs of long underwear for the commute.

10. You call landlines.

Even as an adult you remember your friend’s folk’s landline numbers. When you all happen to be in town at the same time you fall back to the old routine of ‘Hi, this is Amber is Katie home?’ because nobody gets cell service at their house. You’re also accustomed to frequent call drops and garbled conversations.

11. You remember Liquid Sunshine as a bracelet-making mecca.

As a kid it was the bee’s knees to walk into Liquid Sunshine, be engulfed in Patchouli and Nag Champa smells, grab a little basket and start pumping open those tiny drawers of beads. You became crow like, keeping meticulous track on your miniature clipboard and envisioning the best bracelet ever made. Nowadays, Liquid Sunshine is a souped-up clothing store with a small corner in the back dedicated to the art of beading. But you’ll never forget the cramped, closet of a store you once knew — every corner filled with exotic relics from other lands, drums stretched with real deer hide and, of course, the island mecca of beads.

12. You still refer to western Maine as ‘home.’

No matter how many years it’s been, no matter how many leases you’ve signed or how many times you’ve packed all of your things into boxes and jammed them into the backseat of your car, you still call Farmington (or some other western Maine town) home. Because it still is.

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