Transformations - Poetry

Jonathan Williamson: Are You ‘From Away?’

Posted:  Friday, April 4, 2014 - 5:15pm

Camden resident, Jonathan Williamson, shares his experience of being "From Away."

It's a simple label, "From Away," but the meaning is far from simple.

You are "From Away" if you were not born in Maine and now find yourself here.

It's a permanent name badge saying you are not "a Mainah,"

and you will never be, even after you buy a house, marry a Mainah, and raise children here.

You don't really know who's who or what's what or where's where,

and you don't really fit in.

If you were truly a Mainah, your barber or hair dresser would know your house cleaner and wood supplier and your minister.

They would in turn know your kids' teachers and the coaches of their teams.

And most would know your doctor who would know your health history since you were a baby, and who in your family drinks too much or had an abortion or had done time in jail.

If you were really a Mainah, your dentist and your druggist and your mechanic would comfortably swap information about your family and your habits and problems,

If you were a Mainah you would understand why your house is referred to by the name of the first family that had lived in it,

or folks might call it by the name of whoever had lived there when your parents bought it.

As a Mainah if you go to the bank for a mortgage or a car loan or boat loan approval may not depend on a credit score but on the local perception of your dependability and stability,

And maybe on how well your father held a job and paid his debts.

Of course that banker would know and talk to your dentist and your druggist and your kids' coaches and your barber and house cleaner and your minister.

And after a generation, through all these connections, and time, luck and persistence,

your kids will be Mainahs.

Jonathan WilliamsonJonathan Williamson is recently "From Away," having moved here with his wife, Hayden, a year ago from Boulder, Colo. They have lived in Colombia, Venezuela, the Netherlands and Belgium, and then Boulder. Jonathan was trained as a naval architect, but in 1992 went back to university as the oldest person in the class and obtained a doctorate in psychology. Health difficulties brought them to Quarry Hill to be near to his daughter, Teresa, and son-in-law, Dr. Whitney Randolph.

Jonathan joined Kathrin Seitz's writing group to learn how to express himself in story and poem, and found that he loves the creative stimulus and freedom that creative writing brings.



We tell stories.
We tell stories to make sense of our lives.
We tell stories to communicate our experience of being alive.
We tell stories in our own distinct voice. Our own unique rhythm and tonality.

Transformations is a weekly story-telling column. The stories are written by community members who are my students. Our stories are about family, love, loss and good times. We hope to make you laugh and cry. Maybe we will convince you to tell your stories.
— Kathrin Seitz, editor, and Cheryl Durbas, co-editor

"Everyone, when they get quiet, when they become desperately honest with themselves, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there." — Henry Miller

Kathrin Seitz teaches Method Writing in Rockport, New York City and Florida. She can be reached at Cheryl Durbas is a freelance personal assistant in the Midcoast area. She can be reached at