Post-Grad Life: The Road Trip

[This article is part of a series. Read the first two pieces on 15Four and Z*Con].

This past semester was the most stress I’ve ever faced in school. I can remember multiple times where it felt like I was drowning in the amount of work I had to do. Senior year is expected to be tough, but I was holding down two part time jobs, trying to freelance, finishing up a double major, and preparing myself for the post-graduate life.

I distinctly remember one night when my roommates were out of the apartment and I was all alone. I hadn’t been home in a number of weeks, I’d had a tough schedule, and I was in the middle of writing an article on deadline.

The thought occurred to me that Red Lobster is bull&*#!

One does not simply go to Red Lobster to enjoy a Lobster-based meal as depicted in those commercials. The reality of a true lobster feast is realized at a roadside lobster pound along the Maine coastline. It’s comparable to the Chesapeake Bay’s crab shacks. I would never expect to get a quality crab cake from Aunt Debbie’s Seafood Pantry in Fort Wayne, Indiana, so why have my first lobster at a lackluster seafood joint?

The idea began formulating to take a road trip to Maine. I was going to go with a roommate and friend, but plans fell through. I was fortunate to find another group of friend who had simultaneously been planning a trip to Acadia, so our fates combined into a national park and lobster extravaganza.

After having not made money at Z*Con or 15Four, I figured a 1,400 mile road trip couldn’t hurt.

The beauty of Maine can’t be described beyond “picturesque.” Everyone in our group commented that what you imagine it looks like is the reality. WE climbed Cadillac Mountain, the tallest peak on the North Atlantic coast.

We did an ice bucket challenge in a tandem kayak.

We scrambled on the granite rocks of Maine’s coastline.

Seawall

I ate three lobsters.

Lobster's claws.
Lobster’s claws.

On the drive up, I had to look up how to pick and eat them. I’ve been eating crabs since I can remember, but I quickly found the experience to be very different. The process of cracking a lobster can take less than a minute, whereas a good-sized crab can take a little bit of time to flesh out. The meat has a significantly different taste and texture as well, a little sweeter and denser.

PortlandLobster
The buzzers of a lobster pound in Portland, Maine. The beer is Sea Dog’s Blueberry Ale, a local favorite.

I came to the conclusion that lobster must be as cultural an experience for the North Atlantic coast as crabs are for the Chesapeake. The associations of summer days, beautiful landscapes, cold beer, and camaraderie are written into the psyche of those who celebrate these crustaceans. The respective harvesting industries are old, blue collar jobs that are as American as the steel and auto industries.

Perhaps it’s because I have Old Bay in my veins, but I settled on the idea that I will always prefer crabs to lobster. However, I’m glad to have had an authentic lobster feast in Portland. The couples, friends, and families all around us were clearly locals and were quick to ask if I had ever eaten lobster, merely based on the way I was handling them.

I was able to return to Maryland with the first of my post-graduate dreams realized. I’ve always wanted to travel, but school and work kept me from being able to. My hope is that, given the time in my freelancing and perhaps with a little bit of money, I can continue to see my silly, flight of fancy ideas to the end. Whether it be traveling or making a no-budget film over the weekend, I only have myself to keep me accountable any more. There is a certain type of strength in that, which I’m excited about.

I feel that the moral I’ve learned from this summer has been that it’s okay to take free work and that it’s okay to take time for myself. The life experience more  than makes up for any monetary loss.

I am my own guide in this new world. I’m excited to see what that means and where I can go.

Cadillac Mountain
[This article is part of a series. Read the first two pieces on 15Four and Z*Con].

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