No one likes to lose, and nobody wants their losses hung out to dry. Last November I did both when I ran for the United States Senate.
It wasn’t just losing the election. That was no surprise. It was losing by so much. The magnitude was sobering.
Worse was the post-election mourning period. It was like death — nobody knew what to say. Neighbors avoided eye contact at the IGA. Party invitations dried up. My tweets were retweeted no more.
Public rejection is not a confidence builder. It is hard work and hard on relationships. The agony of defeat doesn’t stop the world from turning, though. It just adjusts the focus. I knew I was writing my own script. I needed to take on a new challenge and succeed.
The big purge was step one. We had a massive yard sale to clear the deck and help clear my head. Goodbye futon mattresses, lava lamps and bumper stickers! Sayonara old toys, palm cards, T-shirts and yard signs.
Truckloads of stuff were carted out of my life, creating space for opportunity and hope to creep back in.
The Dill for U.S. Senate campaign office became the Pillar Suite — a place for people to come and enjoy a beautiful coastal town in Maine. We have a listing on the chic Airbnb website and host guests from New York City, Montreal, Los Angeles and beyond.
And it turns out I’m not such a loser after all.
“Cynthia was a terrific host,” said Jordan from Waitsfield, Vt.
“Cynthia took great care in giving us fresh dishes and rinsed out the coffee pot for us each morning,” commented Christine from Brooklyn.
“As a host, she was VERY accommodating and responded quickly before and during the trip to all my inquiries (thank you!). I would definitely stay with Cynthia again …”
Our guests love the robust coffee, fresh orange juice and Greek yogurt I leave in the shiny new refrigerator. They appreciate the maps and brochures I carefully organize on the desk. They snack on the variety of granola bars I arrange in a pretty clay bowl. They sleep well in the sheets and blankets I bought online at J.C. Penney.
Don’t get me wrong. Life as an Airbnb hostess is not without its challenges.
Ten months ago, I worried about crafting pithy position papers on national issues. Now I fret about finding soap small enough to satisfy my husband’s thrifty nature. You see, the small bars of Dove we purchase for the Pillar Suite cost as much as the large bars, and both get thrown out long before their utility is expired. The waste is killing my one and only.
So, we scour our house for unused hotel soaps and bottles of body wash. We compare soap prices at CVS to Hannaford’s and Whole Foods’. We consider alternatives and watch YouTube videos about recycling by boiling soap lumps with pieces of balsam or lemon peel.
It’s a struggle, but we’re up for it. Every day and every guest present an opportunity. Life is exciting and rewarding.
As long as we can reinvent ourselves to serve and bring comfort to others, the American Dream lives on, I’m happy to report.
Cynthia Dill of Cape Elizabeth is a civil rights attorney with the Portland firm Troubh Heisler. She served six years in the Maine Legislature and was the Democratic nominee in Maine’s 2012 U.S. Senate race.