Every once in a while you come across a place that changes your life forever. For me, that was a family cottage in Maine.
Very early after meeting Matt he invited me to a place in Maine. He described it as a small cottage that was not winterized, with no running water. So in my head I pictured a one room shack with a fireplace. I still don't know why I agreed so readily (his mom still can't believe it either!), but I went. I figured I had slept in some ridiculous places during my military training and I wasn't too worried about the lack of amenities. Just to be safe, I wrote the name of the town on the white board of the home I shared with my sister. You know... if this person I barely knew ended up killing me at his creepy cabin.
On a cold weekend at the end of November, we drove four and a half hours to the spot. We parked in a community area and walked the half mile lugging our bags to the cottage. I could barely see anything in the dark but we managed to make it inside and turned on the light. I could not believe my eyes!
The cottage was beautiful, and BIG, and had electricity! I was suddenly really regretting that I hadn't brought a hair dryer, makeup, or even a razor to this date weekend!Over the next few days I had my first glimpse into the magic of that amazing place.
The "shack" was actually a large structure built generations ago, now a refuge for the entire family. Going during the winter gave me a unique view. It was so quiet, it was FREEZING cold (we ended up using space blankets to get the temperature above freezing and it still took a full day!), and it was isolated. Despite this, I believe that was the weekend we fell in love.
One month later we went back. This time I wasn't worried about Matt killing me and I definitely changed up what I packed the first time. Matt missed his family Christmas that year, but I like to think it was for a good reason. That's the first time Matt said "I love you" to me while we stood on the frozen lake.
The next spring I went again, and this time I got the full experience. I met the family! Cousins, aunts, uncles, and beach neighbors- all equally wonderful. I could not believe how welcoming everyone was, the stories and laughs they all shared.
That summer we went back for the last time before moving to North Carolina. I learned how to jet ski, we had lobsters (of course!), and even better- Matt proposed!
The next summer we were married in the same spot we first said "I love you". Planning a wedding in just a few months from 18 hours away was a feat in itself, but adding the logistics of bringing tents, tables, chairs, food, and guests to a cottage only accessed by walking or a boat was not easy. It seemed like the perfect idea but there was a lot of doubt. Could we pull it off without people being miserable? I like to think we did (at least I hope so!). I certainly don't know of another wedding where a saw dust toilet was built, but I guess that's just us.
The family cottage in Maine is something I feel so lucky to have experienced. At no point did I feel like I was surrounded by strangers. From the moment I saw it until now I have felt like it was always a part of me. The way everyone is brought together no matter where they come from or how long they have been visiting is something that is hard to describe. Knowing that no matter where we live we can always go to Maine and see the family we miss so much is a comfort I wish I could say everyone had.
So to the amazing people I have met in Maine, if you are reading this, thank you. Thank you for sharing your special place with me. Matt and I are so lucky to have you.
Do you have a special place like Maine? Maybe even a town you like to visit or even a country? Let us know in the comments below!