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Inn these islands

May 3, 2024

Dila Cakir

“Flight of the Bumblebee” plays, and I ask Lily what to write for this column. She turns down the fluttering violin, and that bee stops buzzing around the car. I think she appreciates the request; flashing perfect teeth, she tells me that she’ll give me a prompt and  that I must follow it. I say no, but here I sit trying to find a way to write about the Moonlight Inn. It was a serendipitous suggestion: I’ve known that stretch of connecting road between I-295 and Route 1 longer than any other part of Brunswick. I wrote a supplemental essay about it, fibbing about stops for snacks at the McDonald’s. In truth, my dad never lets us stop that close to Rockland, the terminus of our drive. He does, though, always warn us that there’s a speed trap and then points to the Moonlight Inn and tells us that he thinks he stayed there one time in the ’70s.

I never liked driving. Rather, I never liked being driven. Prone to motion sickness and with legs that outgrew the backseat around seventh grade, I’m just not built for it. I’ve come around, though. I’ve had to. Semi-rural life and failure, quite literally, to procure a driver’s license, has made being driven a privilege. I am eternally indebted to the generous souls who chauffeur me to and from doctor’s appointments and Scarborough Beach.

An inability to drive is more than an embarrassment or an unwanted marker of my New Yorkerness that persists no matter how much I lean into Gorpcore; it’s beginning to present a serious restraint. You see, I’ve decided it’s time to head west. Go ahead, chastise me for my naïve romanticism or my cliché postgrad aspirations loosely inspired by a Chicks song. I’ve done my research. I’ll b-line for a door frame in the event of an earthquake. I’ll work on my surfing and my suntan, and maybe I’ll go blonde. I’ll order a smoothie at Erewhon, totally vegan (save for the essential addition of $11 colostrum). Before all of that, though, I’ll get my license, hop in a (preferably orange) convertible VW Bug and cruise down the 1— the California state highway, not the East Coast route.

A friend of mine named Will, not to be confused with his roommate, William, likes to say that Maine has more coastline than California. When he says this, always waving his pointer finger like a professor at a lectern, I bite my tongue. I do not respond with an “actually…” followed by a recitation of the coastline paradox Wikipedia page. I do not explain to him that there is no standardized length of measurement when it comes to coasts and that infinitesimal fractals and curves of rock and sand change daily and thus cannot be reliably quantified, and, depending on your preferred decimal point, Maine might have more coast one day only to be unseated by the Golden State the next. I understand his meaning. Maine’s fingers reach out and curl into the gulf; islands that threaten to drift farther and farther out to sea, and yet remain moored in place, offer a cheat for that West-Coast ocean sunset.

The indefinable distance of Maine’s coast makes it no less knowable. Small and constant changes in the basaltic shoreline serve as proof of life, proof that rocks under feet feel you too. The prospect of striking out over the Mississippi brings on a tantalizing buzz not unlike “The Flight of the Bumblebee”; the violin gets louder and louder with each imagined hurdle. Lest I overburden myself too soon with the weight of real life, I’ll spend the summer on one of those well-anchored islands where the sun settles in its final location over the Camden Hills. For now, there is the promise of another summer in Maine, of cold lapping tides, of infinite coastline and at least one more mention of the Moonlight Inn.


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