I make no secret of the fact that high school was, hands down, the worst 4 years of my life. One best friend left for private boarding school, and then another drifted away; a more subtle exit, but no less gone. I was lost, and lonely, and a little weird, and – frankly – bored. And angry, though it took me a long time to realize that was what I was feeling. It took me even longer to be able to see how those years were affecting me, long after they should have. On top of all that I thought I was so fat, all 130 pounds of my 5’7″ frame, and so homely with my braces and glasses (eventually replaced by contacts) and hair that just never seemed to work. Now of course I see the pictures of me from that time and think I was delusional (though the glasses, those 80s era large plastic frames, were really terrible).
I’m not quite sure how it happened, I assume it was Jenny who first suggested it, but my sophomore year I somehow found myself on the debate team. Ah, here were my people – smart and stubborn and articulate and funny and just a little weird. (Maybe a lot weird in a few instances?) Honestly, we were a bit of a motley crew, singing John Denver and Violent Femmes songs in the back of the bus, having spent our Saturdays at a debate tournament at some other far away school. Fun for us was spending weeks on end researching agricultural policy topics, copying and pasting snippets of information onto long yellow legal pads, crafting arguments for both sides of any topic. Occasionally inter-school romances would crop up – in particular a boy named Christian, from Cheverus, who wrote me long philosophical letters for years, even after he transferred to Exeter. He was beautiful, if absent-minded in a way that even amused my mother, who came along sometimes as a judge. The letters are still kicking around somewhere, they turn up every few years when I move; I should probably do us both a favor and burn them, along with all the other sentimental detritus I’ve accumulated over the years, but I can never bring myself to do it.
Stephanie was my debate partner, a year younger than I. We won some, we lost some, and then we spent a few weeks at summer debate camp at Bates, listening to Suzanne Vega and throwing water balloons with a bunch of wealthy kids from all around the country who didn’t know how to eat lobster. It was a bonding experience, to put it mildly. And so, when I learned through the Facebook grapevine Steph was expecting a baby, I immediately set to work making a Maine-themed baby quilt…even though she now lives in Michigan. Once a Mainer, always a Mainer.
Yet again I used the Yellow Brick Road pattern, mixing lobster, sailboat and lighthouse prints with polka dots and solids. In the interest of finishing it I had to machine quilt it and, well, it’s not my finest work to be honest…but in the spirit of not letting perfect be the enemy of the good, I finished it and mailed it off a few weeks ago. Imperfect quilting aside, I totally love this. It’s exactly what I imagined, and I hope the baby Mainer-in-Exile enjoys it.