When I woke this morning I checked my iPhone calendar. It’s nearly August 2018. We’re still in Maine, and I still can’t believe it.

She, a child of this earth, and I returned to Maine 34 years ago and were driven to the corner of Silver and Main streets. I was afraid to get out. There were no sirens, no hot dog or taco stands. What had I done? I didn’t want to get out of the car. But I did.

For those who still ask me how this all happened, this is how it happened.

August 1984. Hollywood:

She and I had finally decided that 20 years in California were enough. The girls were in college, and we were restless.

By that time, I had killed all 40 rose bushes that had come with the house, and the infamous “Night Stalker” had killed all of his victims. Crime was on the rise, and acting jobs on the decline.

Together, She and I had grown weary of the Hollywood fast lane, serial killers, five-year droughts, the eternal summers and 89-degree Christmases. Without our daughters, we were reduced to two knives and forks, two plates and two empty chairs collecting dust.

By that time, we had created this fantasy that the money from the sale of this big, expensive California house with the avocado trees and dead rose bushes would surely get us a mansion by the sea in Maine, with a lighthouse on every corner, two cars in the garage, snow at Christmas, a lobster in every pot.

At an audition the next day, I broke the news to my closest colleagues. It was received with shock and awe.

I first told comedian Charles Nelson Reilly, who stared at me and patted the chair next to him. “Sit down, darling,” he whispered. “It’s the heat. You’ll get over it.”

Dom DeLuise, who had been with me since 1955, waited almost 15 minutes before gasping, “What will you wear?” For the record, once Dom became truly famous, he bought property in Portland.

No one would believe we would do it.

Now, Charles and Dom are gone. My Hollywood past is littered with grave stones and yellowing obits in my old paper.

Oh, yes. In 1984, I was among those who believed that leaving Pink’s Famous Hot Dogs on La Brea, The Monkey Bar in Chinatown and Lucy’s El Adobe restaurant where the Kennedys hung out would have been considered not only unthinkable but pointless. Sunlight lit our days, the Hollywood sign was our night light. Absurd.

Lorenzo Music, who was the original voice of the cat “Garfield” and “Carlton,” the door man, on the television show “Rhoda,” stopped me in the cereal aisle at Ralph’s Market and cautioned me.

“Young brother,” he said, “this is Hollywood. If you’re coming back, don’t leave. Nobody will remember you.” Lorenzo died on Aug. 4, 2001. Do you remember him?

One summer night, She and I sat in the dark listening to the sirens far away. Listening to her talk about her last visit home, I knew the pressure was on.

“It’s still a wonderful, peaceful, little college town, where everyone has lunch at this little restaurant, The Villager, and dinner at a place called Steve’s, where on Friday nights, everyone gets together for drinks and dinner, and Democrats and Republicans sit so close their chairs touch. It’s like a Frank Capra town. Isn’t that wonderful?”

Frank Capra? The man who brought “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “You Can’t Take it With You” and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” into our lives? She figured that would win me over. She was right. We bought new suitcases.

Well, it’s 2018. Steve’s is gone, and Democrats and Republicans don’t even speak, let alone let their chairs touch.

The nice little Villager, which has survived the harsh winds of progress, is now sitting in the cold shadows of a semi-skyscraper, there are two colleges, a plethora of pizza joints, and, of course, seven minutes up the road, a Starbucks.

So after 34 birthdays, six presidents, five Priuses, six dogs, seven smart phones and no rose bushes, we are still here.

Waterville now is more energized than sleepy, and more of an HBO sitcom than a Frank Capra movie.

I’m still restless, but I can’t leave. I’m afraid if I come back, you won’t remember me.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

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