Since coming back to Maine, I’ve been avoiding going to old familiar places where I hung out when I attended the University which played a major part in our social life back then. Philosophical discussions with psych Prof Sytsma and his buddy from the History department at the old Sun Tavern, a divey bar in the best sense where you knew there were interesting conversations to be had. No evening was complete without a drop in and show your face there. Stained glass was the medium used by artists in the Old Port for a while back then and the Sun had the most gorgeous piece hanging at its street window of a gigantic multi-hued sun in shades of mustard, gold, harvest grain, amber, lemon.
My gang from the University Women’s Forum ate many a serving of quiche at various establishments in the Old Port. Quiche being the cheapest offering on the menu, that and we’d get herbal tea, a pissy drink that had about as much kick as watered Kool-Aid. We were cool, and needed the proper venue to have our weekly meetings. I loved to dress outrageously back then and go dancing at the Oasis (which, incredibly is still operating) or I might spend the evening walking the cobblestone streets going from bar to bar to bar, having a drink here and there, checking out the featured bands that week-end.
So enough with the nostalgia. Some of it has been changed by the ever lurking hand of commercialism, which as you can see from the picture below, condos have been built right on the water. It looks like a prison system for the rich who merely have to be told it’s expensive and elitist to want it. I went back yesterday fully realizing that you can’t go home again. But had time on my hands and coins jingling in my pocket so headed down from Congress Street where I just had my hair done at Ollo’s (check out the Oasis picture; Ollo’s used to have a salon down there before it became too expensive for them) and visited the old neighborhood. This being the last summer holiday week-end, it was packed with tourists, but it’s still the Old Port with it’s great vibe. The art crowd still holds sway, with it’s old brick buildings and the cobbled streets. I have been yearning for a fried clam dinner since coming back to Maine, and Portland has developed an international menu since the back then, so I had to ask a stranger if he knew of a place. He sent me to the water’s edge where most places had interminable wait times to get a table. Rather than wait, I ended up at the bar of a middle class joint, huge, on a wharf extending to the sea with a parking lot the size of Rhode island, the kind of place where everyone walks out with a doggie bag, one’s portions being so big. But the food is tasteless and my fried clams, crisp on the outside when bit into had clam resting in uncooked gummy batter. The chocolate cheesecake was topped with 3 marshmallows.
I was a tourist who was no longer in the loop, was there at the wrong time, didn’t know the best places to go. I’ll go back, find my way . .