By Lucas Schaff
The best summer of my life (so far).
It all started as a joke. As is often the case with freshly graduated high school students, I was aimlessly moving my way through my first year in community college. I thought I had an idea of where my life was going, but that was only because I needed to have a response to the age old question “What are you doing after high school?” so often asked at the family christmas gathering. The truth is, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life.
My mom had a couple good friends from college, who followed their dreams and moved to Maine to open a food truck (and a wildly successful one at that). She often joked about shipping me off to them for the summer to get me out of her hair, as I had been outgrowing our 800 square foot St. Paul apartment that we shared between the four of us for the past year. The more she joked, however, the more interested I became in the prospect. Eventually, I ended up with an interview with Sarah, my mom’s best friend from college and co-owner of Bite Into Maine.
The skype interview well, and I was scheduled to start work in May of 2018 as a prep person. I rented a room in Scarborough, Maine, where the food truck’s commissary kitchen was located. I loaded up the Hyundai Accent (our only car, still to this day I don’t know why my parents let me drive it across the country,) with all my worldly possessions. This included a few clothes and my PC. I set off with a cousin, my aunt and grandma for the three day trek across the country. Our journey took us through Wisconsin, up the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and across the border to Canada in Sault Sainte Marie. From there, we took the grueling two lane highways of rural Ontario to Montreal. After that point, we dipped down into New Hampshire, and eventually down through northern Maine into Portland.
The first night I spent in Portland was in Old Orchard Beach, a tourist trap beach town, complete with a miniature amusement park and lots of cheesy gift shops. From there, I moved into my new temporary home in Maine. I was living in a house with a woman and her son, who was a similar age to me. My room was small, but it was plenty for me. I had my own bathroom, and my own part of the fridge. They had a cat and two dogs.
Up until this point, I had spent most of my life being told how to live it. When to go to school, when to have dinner ready, where I should work. But this experience allowed me to have full accountability for my actions, be they good or bad. If I overslept for my 7 A.M. shift, it was my fault alone. The main takeaway I have from my time in Maine is not how to make the perfect lobster roll, but how to be an adult.
In hindsight, one of the reasons this experience is so meaningful to me is the fact that I didn’t have the traditional moving out for college experience. Because of my mental state at the end of my highschool career, I had very little motivation to pursue college or any sort of higher learning. I mostly just applied to a local community college to get all the adults in my life off my back about it. Living at home within walking distance to class and my job kept me in the same 10 block bubble I had been living in for most of my life.
Breaking out of that bubble allowed me to realize what I truly wanted. It allowed me the courage to tell my parents that I wanted to take a couple of semesters off from college. It allowed me to evaluate what I really wanted in a career, and eventually led to me transferring to Stout, where I have been feeling more confident about my future than I have ever before.
I don’t know where I would be today without Bite Into Maine, but I think I would be a very different person than I am today. Learning who you are is a vital part of the human experience, and all it took for me was to move halfway across the country to work for people I had never met in a state I had never been to before.