I stuck fairly close to the small New England town where I lived through college and a job nearby with the phone company. I liked the job, but after a year I decided that I did not want to spend the rest of my life there, and on a whim, joined the Peace Corps and went to Africa.

That was the first time I started over with a strange language, different landscape, and unfamiliar social customs. It seemed that everything — the sounds, the flora and fauna, and the beliefs and ways of life — were odd, such that one could not take anything for granted. The first year was hard, but once I knew how to make sense of my surroundings, behave, and talk, it was a thrill, such that when I came home after two years, it was home that seemed unfamiliar, and it never felt like the way things are naturally supposed to be again.

I then married, and we left for two years in the army in Germany, where we loved touring the Rhine valley, going to wine fests, and enjoying the different vibes, as the language, social mores, and vistas no longer seemed quite as strange, but coming home seemed even more unfamiliar. Starting over was becoming a way of life.

We subsequently moved to Wisconsin for graduate school and to Australia for a job. It seemed there was no stopping now, as our daughters continually reminded us as they grew up speaking a strange dialect, but after eight years we moved back to New England and, after another 12, the Midwest, but both were similarly exotic places with their own strange social mores and rituals.

And now, in our late 70s, we’ve moved to Maine, after slowly familiarizing ourselves with it over many years, to acclimate ourselves anew to changing colors, seascapes, accents, behaviors, and assumptions. We don’t move quite a quickly as we once did, and starting over is still challenging, but we are energized to explore our new surroundings and opportunities.

I’ve been reading Catherine Besteman’s wonderful book, “Making Refuge,” about Somali refugees in Lewiston and their struggles to start over in a strange land, safe from the horrors of kidnappings, war, refugee camps, family separation and resettlement. Their travails have been much much more traumatic than ours, but I hope they will be similarly rewarded for being able to start over.

Thomas Spear is a retired college professor who lives in Arrowsic.

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