Trip to Wonderful

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The beginning

A couple of weeks ago, Eric and I agreed we would embark on this adventure. A move, from our home of 8 years on one coast, to a new world, full of uncertainly, and hope, on the other. For both of us, Maine has little left to offer career-wise: The tech revolution former Gov. King touted as just around the bend never made it past Portsmouth, and "Clean Elections" removed money, and thus the staff that went with such, from state and local politics. An abundance of professional operatives now vie for a few choice not-for-profit jobs, and if you're a hopeless believer in the fostering a non-partisan Progressive environment, job choices are nearly non-existent.

Governor Baldacci has made this move all the easier with his latest budget, which drastically cuts spending on special needs children (early intervention, in-home support, Medicaid reimbursement) for the benefit of his 2006 re-election bid. He promised that he would not raise taxes and a few thousand (non-voting) disabled kids are not getting in his way.

The housing bubble in Portland has expanded beyond recognition (+20%/year) since we purchase our 1913 Four-Square, putting us in that "landed-poor" bracket - unemployed, but with a healthy reserve of untapped equity. So cashing out before the bubble bursts (which it eventually has to in Southern Maine, with under-employment and suburban sprawl impinging upon urban real estate prices) seems the thing to do. And with nothing but 12,000 of history holding me here, it was time to let Eric return "home", or at least to the familiarity of the sun setting, not rising, into the sea.

So here we are, ready to move our family 3500 miles from the only home they remember. It's thrilling and frightening all at once, like the high point of the roller coaster before it plunges back towards earth. It should have more significance than simply getting from point A to point B. This is an opportunity to give our children a gift too few can experience, autistic or not. It is also the chance to offer experience, and hope, to thousands of families for whom the word "vacation" means an end to the structure of school, replaced by scrambing for appropriate caregivers or juggling work hours and time off in order to fill the void left by absent teachers and therapists. Vacationing as a happy family is the dream most parents share before the first booty is even knit. That dream should not die with a diagnosis of autism or Down's or other developmental disability. It is my hope that this wonderful journey upon which we are about to embark will embolden other families with neurologically exceptional children to live the dream as well.

Welcome to our adventure. Buckle up, the ride will mostly likely be bumpy.


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