Meanwhile, Linda studied theology. Her bedroom, which included a desk, easy chair, laptop computer, and inkjet printer, filled with texts, hardcover as well as paperback, on theology through the ages, including theological approaches to such contemporary issues as violence, incarceration, and LGBTQ rights. Many of the texts, if their cover descriptions were any indication, struck me as unimaginably dense―the particle physics of faith and spirit―yet she tackled them with the same rigor she applied to the study of medicine. Chaplaincy, not preaching from a pulpit, was her blossoming interest as, while a student, she enjoyed volunteering at a Portland hospital, the Cumberland County Jail, and the state prison in Warren, Maine.
And then, four years after we moved to Maine, as my wife prepared for her graduation, we looked at the mounting entries on the liabilities side of our Maine balance sheet: The wearying humidity of summer. The bone-gnawing cold of winter. The ticks that appeared in the woods every spring, entering our house aboard our four dogs and the Smartwool of my socks before crawling between our bed sheets, threatening Lyme Disease, expiring only between the teeth of a pair of pliers or beneath the blow of a hammer. The rare Maine vista beyond its shorelines. The Mother’s Day invasion of the bloodsucking black fly. The Father’s Day invasion of the mosquito. The snow-laden tree limbs that broke power lines, plunging houses into cold and darkness for days. The marginally-satisfying “Mexican” food at the On the Border restaurant in South Portland. (Beware of an enchilada scantily clad with sauce and garnished with parsley and a jalapeño slice.) The idiocy and racism of Maine governor Paul LePage.
So we decided to some way, somehow, return to the Southwest.