Previously: “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.”
The week following my Yosemite trip was not the greatest. I went to a party that D was at and didn’t know how to handle myself. I know I did not do it gracefully. Cassidy and I were both having separation anxiety nightmares. I dreamed I was homesick for my mom – a terrible feeling I hadn’t had in years. Cassidy dreamed we were reuniting at his family’s Cape Cod house and we had all grown so old because so many years had passed. I had a really nice home, a well-paying job and a great group of friends. Not to mention family. It was the only life I had ever known. I knew I couldn’t stay but I felt like I couldn’t necessarily leave either. I didn’t want Cassidy to move to Jersey. That was never even an idea I could entertain.
Something had to be done, just the same.
We entertained ideas, some realistic and most not. Opening a coffee shop/B&B/moose store in Wyoming. Working a fruit stand in Hawaii. Raising a stable family in New England (HOLY SPOILER), living in San Francisco so only one of us would have to move. Cassidy always pushed for a new place – somewhere we’d know instantly was home. Somewhere amazing that we didn’t know about yet. I only wanted a chance to live in California for a year or two. It was on my bucket list.
Cassidy the Romantic: “I know wherever I lay my head down next to yours will be home.”
There were so many annoying details, some real and some created. I had a lease with my sister. I had a job, of course. I thought initially about moving to California but not living with Cassidy! Getting my own place. Having a safe space, a backup plan. He didn’t like my idea. I didn’t necessarily like my idea either but I wanted to keep myself safe this time. He said:
“Sometimes I wonder how many different ways I can say, email, txt how much I miss you. And then I get sad that it’s ultimately going to be a lot.”
I had a lot of anxiety at first. All the way through too. I fear change at times. And I saw myself sitting in an empty apartment, knowing I had just left everyone and everything I’d ever known, and just sitting in paralyzed fear. So I knew if I moved, I’d have to move in with him and not to an empty apartment. My fears started to subside, little by little. At least most of them. I felt confident of our love. “I never considered that time would pass, and you would come back, but it would be well after we both had healed or were healing, and that we’d know what to do. I knew I’d fall in love again, and that it would be new and magical. But I never considered that I’d fall in love again, with you.” It was always mind blowing. Still is.
Winter 2006/2007 was a blur of distance, then togetherness, then hard distance, and togetherness again. It was time for a leap of faith and the pieces started to fit together, very slowly. The song of the last end of 2006 was the live long version of “Badge” by Cream. It’s on the 24 Nights album. As Cassidy first said of it, “It’s uh…poignant.“
“Thinkin’ ’bout the times you drove in my car.
Thinkin’ that I might have drove you too far.
And I’m thinkin’ ’bout the love that you laid on my table.”
– I flew back out to San Francisco. We had booked a night or two at a B&B in wine country. On our way there, we found an honest to goodness wild safari in the middle of nowhere. So we did what anyone else would do! We walked in and explored. We walked right up to the giraffes, one of which took an instant liking to Cassidy:
– Not long after, we were “caught” by staff and asked politely to leave. Turns out it was a private sanctuary that you have to book way in advance. And we were just having a grand old time, playing with giraffes in the middle of northern California! Our destination was Calistoga. We stayed at Scarlett’s Country Inn. She had a dog named after Chewbacca and had wild birds come and land on her hands and shoulders. She was a magical woman, and of course, a lot of inspiration for us naming our daughter, Scarlet. We just changed it to one “T” to follow the color and the Dead song “Scarlet Begonias.” We have since been back to see her a lot, but she passed away in late 2010 in a car accident. We will always love Scarlett and her magic.
In late November:
– Cassidy flew to the east coast for ten days. Nervous and excited, he set foot in my parent’s house again and reunited with my family for the first time in years. They greeted him with open arms, of course. We finally did have that Thanksgiving we had all dreamed about for years. It was..overwhelmingly awesome. Ruth took pictures:
– Ruth’s aunt is now..103 or 104. She was 99 at this time and when Ruth told her the story of Cassidy and me she said, “It’s like magic, isn’t it?”
– After Thanksgiving, we went to Connecticut and I met Cassidy’s brothers, his dad and his dad’s wife, Peggy. New pieces of a future family, all coming together. Then we drove out to the family Cape house in Truro where I was stunned to find generations of family photos gracing every wall. I wanted to be on that wall one day, or take a picture to be on that wall. We snuggled alone in the house at night after days on the cold beaches:
– December brought another trip to California and finally meeting many of Cassidy’s friends.
– I created a gmail account and starting forwarding all of our emails, ever, to it. I needed to keep a record of all that had happened. I knew I was leaving in 2007 and that everything I ever did would eventually be deleted off of my company server. I knew I’d one day want to write a blog or a book or a movie. Forwarding it then brought up a lot of happiness and pain for me. I eventually had to blindly forward emails without reading them. These days, now, I read them all. It’s been..quite a month of bringing up the past. Now you know why this story is so detailed! Research is never easy when it’s good.
– At the end of the month Cassidy flew east again, for our big New Year’s plans. BIG. We were hanging out in Jersey for a bit and then driving to Bethel, Maine to stay at the Prodigal Inn again. Together. Cassidy had called Marcey and Tom, not even knowing if they’d remember us. They did. They kept the tree up for us so we could have a private belated Christmas together. When we arrived, we talked for hours, telling each other everything. We told them about our breakup and the aftermath and I admitted driving past the Inn with D1 and seeing Tom and not being able to face him. I couldn’t believe a year and a half later I could look Tom in the eye and tell him. We told them how much they meant to us, always. We listened to the dumb old instrumental Titanic album. We looked in the old guest book and saw the powerful words we had written them years earlier. We couldn’t believe it but those words about reuniting and telling our tales had come true. On New Year’s Eve we went out for an early dinner and got back to the Inn by midnight. We wanted to be with the other guests and Tom and Marcey. We all danced and partied.
– When we left, Marcey gave us a gift. She had bought it earlier that year but didn’t know why. Now she believed it was meant for us. As she told me, “He’s a keeper and he’s so in love with you. He’ll always take care of you.” She figured that out when he told her to make sure I didn’t have any onions in my breakfast! The gift was a baby blanket/taggie. She knew we’d have children together. We didn’t find it in time for baby Scarlet but Cassidy found it the other day in storage and we’ll use it for the new baby. Scarlet has adopted it for her baby doll and we think that fits just about as perfectly as anything else.
– That was it. Decision made. Plans to move were underway. I searched to find my sister a replacement roommate. I started wrapping up old projects at work.
– I met Cassidy’s 99-year-old great-aunt Nettie and told her the entire story of how we came to be. When I was done, she was wiping tears from her eyes and calling us magical.
– We met in Chicago for a business trip of Cassidy’s and stayed at the fancy Omni Hotel. I met his very good friend, Blase, who wound up marrying us. We played with his kids for days.
– I moved back in with my parents for two months since my roommate search had been successful two months before I needed one. It was one of the strangest times in my life. Even though I had left for college at 18 and then left for the “real world” at 22 or so, I felt like I was losing my parents forever. I knew it would never be the same. I was embarking on something so new, and so distant, and what seemed like it might be permanent. I would cry at night. My mom and I celebrated every holiday to the fullest with countdowns. We’d leave each other morning presents for weeks before Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter. We had a ball but it was hard as well. I was slowly surrendering my previous life – switching from a local bank to a national one, telling all my friends I was leaving, packing up my things early. I had some of my first fights with Cassidy – about planned trips that fell through, cold or distant emails and phone calls. We were already starting to behave like a normal couple! Except we weren’t normal at all.
– I gave my official notice at work.
– Cassidy and I met in Florida so he could meet my grandparents.
– I started getting really, really nervous.
– I ended my four year software career on March 30th. I wrote a last email to Cassidy from that work account, the one that had held SO FREAKIN’ MUCH, of our lives:
“This is me really signing off now..
And into the rest of our lives.”
He flew to me in early April. We Fed-exed most of my life to San Francisco. On April 10, 2007, we got on a JetBlue flight together. Our first JetBlue flight together. He squeezed my hand during takeoff, because I really hate takeoff. I looked at the window and waved goodbye to New Jersey. I knew I’d never be back, not permanently. The first night in our new life, I sobbed on the couch for hours after my friend Nora requested “Into The Great Wide Open” on the radio through my sister. The next day was a rare rainy day in San Francisco. We had keys made. We bought furniture. The great adventure was underway. I can’t say the transition was smooth, or easy. Living together wasn’t so hard. We were compatible. Money, anxiety, distance, loss, fear, trust. They were all works in progress. But it was so worth it.
In June, Cassidy took me to a Police concert in Oakland. When we came home, the house was lit with dozens of candles. There were roses and photos and music. I came into the living room after dropping off my purse in the bedroom and Cassidy stood, nervous, a ring in his hand and a proposal on his lips. I was stunned. “Yes” was the biggest no-brainer answer of my life. I stayed up all night calling family and friends at ridiculous east coast (and west coast) hours. We celebrated after with fancy brunches and seeing Scarlett’s Country Inn. We married in Vermont on April 26th, 2008. The engagement ring was engraved with “Destiny”, our song by Zero 7. The wedding bands were engraved with lyrics from our other song, “Romeo and Juliet” by Dire Straits. Mine says, “You and me, Babe” and his says, “How about it?”
For a long time now, I’ve wondered how and when to end this story. If you know me, you know what my life is like now and perhaps the harder parts of this story were easier to read knowing me or Cassidy, knowing the end result.
Or not. I never felt that way, personally, and I’m the one writing it. I’m the one who lived it.
I could have ended this story after I “met” him. A short story that lives up to the title of my mini-series. I could have ended after I “re-met” him and we began a second love story, that was much more powerful and durable than the first, in my opinion. The relationship built to last.
I could have kept going and going.
What I’ll leave you with is a series of images. And a question only partly answered about what can happen after the epic movie fairy tale is over and real life begins. Real life is only more real than fantasy. Not always better. Not always worse. Just real:
– We flash forward after the proposal and through the wedding planning to the actual day. “Layla: Piano Exit” begins the second we are pronounced man and wife. Tom and Marcey, our dear friends from Maine, approach us at the altar. And then, and only then, does my new husband shed the tears we’ve both been building. Happy tears.
– We are in our Toyota Camry, headed through the wild west and then the midwest and then Niagara Falls. A boring night on the New York side spent in a boring hotel since my husband lost his passport. Best mistake ever. The losing the passport, I mean. The mistake is NOT what happened next, and who was born nine months later. Oh no. That was the “plan.”
– Flash forward to her birth, and the instant connection Cassidy felt the moment he met our daughter. Happy tears. Again.
– Then we are house hunting in Northampton, Massachusetts and falling dizzily in love with our house.
– I sit and write this, literally growing larger by the second, with our second baby. Our son. So, so wanted and planned. And I write this, so that my kids can one day read the story of how they came to be. It wasn’t about planning and pregnancy and labor. It was about a series of events that started long, long before their births that all came together to form a family. And if you think of all of the minor details that made Cassidy my customer in the first place, that made us fall in love, and break up and fall in love again and choose to be together..well it’s a damn miracle. That’s what it is. The miracles of life and love.
And that, my friends, is the end of this particular story. And just think, we’re still kind of young. Three great adventures under our belt. Many, many more to come. Stay tuned here.
Think about what could happen in a life. In your life. Anything is possible. I lived that enough to believe it fully.
“Oh yeah, all right
Are you going to be in my dreams
Love You, Love You..(they say x 15, I say x infinity)
And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make.” – The Beatles