It's official! I signed the lease for a wonderful piano studio space on Main St. in my hometown of Westbrook, Maine. I will move in June. I thought about filling up this entire blog post with "Holy cow holy cow holy cow!!!" which is really an accurate portrayal of how I'm feeling. But let me attempt to be more articulate.
It's an adventure of old and new!
On the old side: I'll be moving back to the town where I grew up, where not only my parents and sister still live but also aunts and uncles and cousins and their growing families, where I memorized the cracks in the sidewalk and where the houses are like faces I've always known. Don's Lunch Cart is still there, and so is Guidi's Diner, and the paper mill and the river both keep running for all time as far as I know.
On the new side: I'll be starting a new piano studio from scratch - holy cow! If that isn't anxiety-inducing... And for the first time I'll be living in my home state as a (supposed) full-fledged adult, which means for the first time I will have a real appreciation for the Maine scene and scenery. On my to-do list: catch up on the Maine music scene, hike Mt. Katahdin, and take the ferry from Portland to Nova Scotia! Swim in the ocean, eat seafood, rinse, repeat.
Also on the new side: Downtown Westbrook has a vibe going on. I started to catch it while studio hunting. It first hit me when I walked into the Tigris world market, which I discovered just off Main St. To imagine you can buy pickled lemons and beautiful honey-packed pistachios in a town where, as far as I recall, soy sauce was recently considered an exotic ingredient. I was thrilled. When I left Westbrook it seemed like Main St. was a ghost town with all the business squeezed out to the periphery of strip malls and box stores that paved the drive into town. It seemed like there was no where you could walk to, and no where you would want to walk to.
But since I left new life is creeping in, and besides the Tigris Market there's lots more new action on Main St. My students can not only enjoy the proximity of Don's Lunch Cart, they can also eat amazingly delicious Indian food at the Dancing Elephant or sample exotic ice-cream flavors across the street at Catbird Creamery. They can peruse fine art down the block at the Saccarappa Art Collective gallery or paddle kayaks in the massively-restored Presumpscot River that runs right behind my studio. The old Dana Warp Mill has been gorgeously renovated and now hosts a community of artists and studios and small local businesses. And - very important - my new location is a three minute walk to the Baker's Bench bakery where, as far as I can tell, their cream horns are so good they can't keep them on the shelves. Can you tell I'm excited about this?
Does Westbrook want piano lessons? The kind that make music fun and social and a part of your everyday life? I hope so. I also hope my just-outside-Portland location will be super convenient for folks from many communities, whether Gorham or Windham or Portland or Falmouth. After more than a decade away I know I may feel like a stranger at first in my own town, but I hope that doesn't last long. I can't wait to meet my new students and their families.