• Dustin C. Kinard

A Stuffed Moose.


Picture of a stuffed moose at L.L.Bean flagship store. Freeport, Maine.

Last October I took a trip, a much needed escape from the concrete jungle, to Portland, Maine. It's a destination that has been on my "list" to visit for a few years. I had seen the beautiful pictures and landscapes, and heard amazing things and, well, it did NOT disappoint. I fully enjoyed myself there, and it very much exceeded my expectations.

It's a port city, and lives up to its' name. Walking along the streets and narrow alleyways, you're constantly swayed with the salty smell of fresh seafood. The smells of cooking crustaceans mixed with the saltiness of the fishing boats tied at the dock. Fresh lobster is on every menu and nautical decorum overwhelms the senses.

The people are very kind, and very welcoming to their humble little city. Scruffy faces, muted clothes, and boots plagued the longtime residents. I joined a few of these eclectic people aboard the mail boat, as I ferried across the bay to each island, delivering mail and dropping off secluded islanders. I listened to school kids and community organizers plan parties and gatherings inside the boat, over bagged lunches and beers. It truly was a picturesque little community they had.

I visited local restaurants, the hippest of the hip, and gawked at the beautiful tourist spots. Thankfully, I was able to really explore the area, having rented a car for travel and opting out of an airplane ticket. I rode up the coast of Maine, from Portland, stopping at the breathtaking Boothbay, Rockland, Camden, and Lincolnville; Each coastal town as beautiful as the next.

My trip was truly magical, sprinkled with lighthouses, boats, and spectacular ocean views. I ate my first fresh Maine lobster (and learned the proper deshelling methods), I had my first Holy Donut, traveled as far north as I've ever been in my life, and visited 1,001 gift shops, all carrying the same assortment of take homes.

Everything seemed perfect, except for one thing. During my short lived stay in the quaint little town, what I did NOT see was... a moose. I saw a big stuffed moose (pictured above), but no real live moose. I'm told I would have had to go further inland and north to see these gigantic creatures, and I'm ok to save that for another trip.

What concerns me, however, is the amount of moose merchandise that filled the gift shops and windows along the streets of Portland. Like, if you come to Portland, a moose might just walk up to your bayside window or stroll down Fore Street, which, obviously, isn't the case at all. It's a little like false advertising, I'd say.

Portland t-shirts with a moose face. Portland mugs with a moose face. Portland Christmas ornaments with a moose face... but no moose to be found in Portland! And then I thought, it's all a marketing scheme, that's really what it is. You give the people the fake moose, and they spend their money- real moose, or no real moose.

And then the idea of plastering a moose where none is to be found, made me think. How often do we, ourselves, throw up a fake moose face? Like in our own lives? We put out there what we want people to "think" of us, but not our reality. We put a happy moose face on every shirt, but in reality, there is no happy moose face anywhere. We want to disguise our own lives, and portray something better, or different, instead showing our real qualities and, sometimes, struggles.

So many people expect that from us now. They expect to get the moose treatment from you-- but that expectation is not fair, or true. I think it's about time we show ourselves as we really are, and be happy with what we do have to offer. (Hello Portland... lighthouses, lobsters, the ocean, the city- not one moose!) We do what we're good at, bring our best qualities to the table, and make a difference in this world by being completely ourselves, and no one else. We each already have so much to offer!

Best regards, Portland. No judgement, just a thought. I'll see you and your beautiful sights again soon! :)


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