Previously: New York City had a hell of a lot to say to us, our first time seeing each other in two years.
My mind got clearer as the next week went on after our NYC/Mass reunion. Cassidy sent me a link of his ex-girlfriend’s photography. It showed the whole arc of their relationship. It was the place I saw a picture of him from the Phish show at Coventry, VT and learned they had seen each other and he had never told me. Then I saw their relationship unfold in late 2004 starting from a wedding in which she had taken him as her date, to a Thanksgiving together, to the famous New Year’s Eve where they got back together officially, to road trips, times with Stormy, everything. It hurt to look at a lot, but not as terribly as I would have thought. He looked dead and numb in a lot of her pictures. He never looked that way in mine…
It made me love him more. That is the most selfish thing I can say. I saw a sexy guy who was someone else’s…at the time…and I wanted him more. I looked at every picture, letting pain and sympathy for my own self wash over me. Then I let it go. He showed me those pictures in the middle of my confusion for a reason. I sent him a text in the middle of the night after looking:
“You know how much I love you, right?”
It wasn’t a normal “Tamara” text. I was not usually so free with my emotions on text or email. Sometimes, often, in person too. He was floored. So was I. I was feeling like I was in the middle of a gigantic dream come true. I felt amazed to be experiencing something even more powerful than the amazing adventure of 2004. It took me YEARS to even slightly shake that feeling, not that I wanted to, and since then I’ve felt it again, like after I met Scarlet.
A lot of painful memories surfaced as well. I remembered a night in a bar in February 2005 seeing a friend’s band play. There was a guy who looked like Cassidy on the dance floor. I missed him so much in that moment, but in a physical, bodily way. It was my first sensation of that feeling and it hurt so much I had to leave the bar. When I got into my car, that was when I discovered “Don’t Cry” by Seal. I told Cassidy this memory. I had to keep laying out my pain and memories for awhile. I had to keep confronting them, through pictures and stories. He told me of his pain too. I needed it:
“thank you for the “Don’t Cry” origin tale. It is ok for us to tell mournful tales. The more we talk about the days between the better we will understand each other..what we went through. it will be painful and mournful at times. The end result will be deeper love and understanding though. I used to see you on the street a lot. it was your hair. I used to look at maroon shirts in the boutiques on Haight St….and if one showed up in a window I would see it everyday. it hurt.”
Even with things up in the air, we started to talk about a strange idea. It was Cassidy’s strange idea. He knew that plans may have already been made, but put the idea in all of our heads of us all finally having that Thanksgiving together. In New Jersey. With his mom and Ernie. As he said,
“I think our present totally dwarfs our past. And our past was pretty huge. So that says a lot about what’s happening right now.”
It was so much to think about. All at once. One step at a time, I said then. I still had potential Thanksgiving plans with D. I honestly had no idea. I look back on this time as a jumble of hazy and confused memories, but that was what it was like living through it as well. My sister invited me to visit her at her radio station and put a request on the air. I wanted to send Cassidy a song to let him know I was thinking about him. I had told him to listen. I looked at the millions of albums at the station and couldn’t figure out what to play. Clapton? Petty? Zeppelin? And then it hit me. The most perfect song ever. A throwback to our 2004 roadtrip from Maine to JFK Airport, but also a song that talked of a potential future. U2’s “Even Better Than The Real Thing.” Perfection. My sister actually recorded me sending out the dedication and I have it somewhere:
“Give me one more chance
And you’ll be satisfied
Give me two more chances
You won’t be denied
Well, my heart is where it’s always been
My head is somewhere in between
Give me one more chance
Let me be your lover tonight
Oh yeah, check it out
You’re the real thing
Yeah the real thing
You’re the real thing
Even better than the real thing“
The week or two between getting back from Conway and heading to Yosemite was..incredibly hard. D and I had a series of arguments, bad conversations, loving conversations, emails, phone calls and an in person breakup. After the end, I wrote to my mom, “It was brutal. I wanted to die.” I felt like I was really thinking clearly finally. I didn’t feel like D was thinking clearly and some of his actions hurt me a lot. My mom was a very innocent bystander, trapped in the crossfire, but she told me that during the long two months of confusion and pain, that Cassidy had called her and said, “Just let her be happy. With or without me. I only want her happiness.” My mom had been realizing what I had suspected all along – that Cassidy’s intentions were selfless even if his actions did not always show it.
The day before my trip to Yosemite Cassidy wrote, “I love that our magic is a reality.” It was the simplest way to explain it. I was in pain, so much pain, and that would take a long time to recover from, and maybe never fully, but I felt like my mind and heart were locked in the same place. I don’t know if I had felt that way with Cassidy until after we saw each other again.
I was going to see my mom that night for a last dinner and good blessings before my trip. She wrote an email to Cassidy and me with what might be the best description of our emerging relationship ever. Our wedding officiant, Blase, even quoted her during our ceremony:
“I have been thinking of your love in terms of energy and what I get is that back two years ago, it was like pouring hot, molten glaze into two dixie cups. Now it’s pouring glaze into two ceramic, stoneware cups – Not only does the stoneware withstand the glaze, but the glaze decorates the vessels which are now mature, strong, and beautiful.”
(This is why I’m a writer. Genetics.)
I had wanted so badly to believe I’d end up with D. And I’ll never know what would have happened, with or without Cassidy. When it was both of them, somewhere I believed in Cassidy but chose to focus on something I knew I had, not something only the smallest gut feeling told me I’d get back. I felt wide awake and alive now. As well as in pain. And my mom told me I looked skinny and radiant – sounded about right. I had lost some weight with all of the stress of loving D and Cassidy.
I flew back to San Francisco on a rainy night. I was afraid my plane wouldn’t take off, but it did. I arrived so late and there he was – with Stormy on a leash at the airport! We got in the car and “Going to California” was on the radio. I asked Cassidy if it was a cd and he said, “Umm…no. Radio, of course.” I went back into that city and back into the old apartment. I could only look at it in wonder for hours. I would wander up and down the long hallway, looking at Stormy, looking outside at the sky and just being in awe that I could find myself back there. I sometimes love to pretend that I’m in the past looking into a glimpse of the future, wherever I happen to be. I kept thinking that if my self from a year or even two years before that could see me now, on Oak Street in San Francisco, it would blow my past self’s mind.
We woke up the next morning and took in the sun and some of the parts of the city I had loved and lost. We drove to Yosemite and we had both made three mix cds each for the trip. They had themes. We got Pumpkin Spice Lattes and arrived in the cool, crisp mountains. Yosemite is..beautiful. I think. No, really. We did some half climbs, good drives, good pictures. We saw one deer. Our cabin had an outdoor hot tub and we saw dozens of shooting stars above us one night. We honestly didn’t see much of Yosemite. We spent time together in the cabin. We made meals together. Ok..umm…those of you who know me deserve the truth – Cassidy made meals for us. We watched the “Concert for George” DVD as well as “The Lake House.” In that movie, two people fall in love through letters. One is in 2004. The other is in 2006. They can’t quite get to each other. It felt like us. Waiting for each other for two long years, one suffering more than the other. Frustrating and satisfying at the end. When we actually ventured outside, there were pictures.
The inside view was so great, it kept us indoors for days. Mountains are great, sure. Some things are better.
We stole the most luscious, fluffy white blanket from the cabin. We hoped to get away with it but were secretly thrilled to get billed for it. Honesty is best, we had discovered. We now use it for our house guests in our own private cabin in the woods. We drove back to San Francisco and had a nauseating goodbye at the airport. On the plane back home, I slept through two movies and nearly through dinner. I had headphones in my ear set to some “Rewind” station on the plane’s channels. I woke up as we were landing in Newark, and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” began at that moment.
Coincidence? I think not.
I was so scared to be back in Jersey. Previously our time together would eventually pull us apart because the pain of saying goodbye after goodbye was too great. I was certain that our two years apart had strengthened us for the long, hard road ahead. Our previous relationships, mine strong and his weak, had taught us about love, life, awareness and magic. It sounded like it would be enough but my fears were still there. I still quoted Seal’s “Don’t Cry” on a daily basis:
“Cause I’m afraid what you’ve done to me
Is now the wolf in my bed
In my head, in my head, in my bed”
I still felt wounded. I had just ended a long relationship. I lived in New Jersey. He lived in California. I was trying to piece together full forgiveness and trust. We did have love, though..
Was that enough?