Previously, emails, emails, emails. Insanity, insanity, insanity. Seeing what each other looked like. Talks of blue whales, dreams and ravioli. Thinking, “I couldn’t possibly..feel this way, now, could I?” Yes, yes I could. Yes, I can.”
Late May into June found us feeling grateful to each other for the excitement, happiness and passion our shared lives were now filled with. We sent each other pictures of ourselves as little kids, and my dream to have a shaggy-haired, beautifully-eyed son was born. (SPOILER ALERT – THAT’S GONNA HAPPEN IN JUNE OF 2012!!)
One night after work I arrived home to find a friend of mine shaking on my doorstep. He then proceeded to very eloquently express his love for me. It was beautiful but I didn’t feel the same and the whole event left me shaking and awkward for days. I couldn’t keep it from Cassidy. I didn’t want to skate around feelings anymore. They were burning up inside me. I figured it showed much more game to be honest than to hide my (insane but true) feelings. So I wrote,
“Here’s my honesty. I’ve known and worked with John (not his real name) and been friends with him for about 9 months now. And he’s just..great. He’s amazing. But last night, I had the most stunning and weird thought before I fell asleep, that I’ve never seen you, I don’t even know what you smell like, your laugh sounds like in person, all the little details you learn about someone after 9 months of knowing..but I was still like, “ohh..I wish HE was here right now.” That’s why I have the willies.”
Wait, I might not hit send. oh I might.
And I did. Twelve agonizing minutes later, I got my response:
“you just decreased my productivity today by 42%. man, I have those same feelings. part of me says, “you’re crazy”…and part of me says “go towards the light”.”
Ahhhhhh! Following those heartfelt admissions was a very lame Friday before..Memorial Day weekend. The dreaded three day weekend. It was a busy Friday where we didn’t get to talk much and saying goodbye was harder than usual. Extra days really suck when you’re falling in love and you haven’t discovered weekend emailing yet! Also, this was before the days of rampant cell phones and myspace and Facebook. None of that stuff! It was very different from how courtship is now, I imagine! Life without constant contact. Hey, our parents and grandparents did it. Hey wait, we did it too eight years ago…
After work that Friday, I had to run to meet my whole family for my sister’s 21st birthday. It was really strained and stressful at the dinner before I came – I honestly don’t remember why but it included one of my brothers – so when I showed up, everyone was all smiles and grateful for the distraction of my presence. In fact, I took that exact introduction to tell them all that I had ended my long term relationship with my ex and that I thought I was in love with a man, eight years older than me, who lived in California, and was my ex client! Classy, huh? Surprisingly, honestly, this was met by encouragement. You just have to know my family. Either that or they were REALLY grateful that I showed up and broke the tension.
In mid June, everything changed again. One Thursday we hadn’t talked all day until I got a long email from Cassidy that his company had downsized and laid off 50+ people, and he was one of them. He was in shock. Sad, stunned, emotional. He copied and pasted a long email he had written to many people about his last day there. It ended with a personal note to me:
“I’m back…..all I can say right now is that I am unbelievably grateful that we found each other before this happened and I really look forward to whatever the future brings in a new venue. Here’s some ways to find me:”
Then we finally, finally, finally, at a day short of a month long email courtship, exchanged phone numbers and home addresses. We started saving all of our valuable emails since they were on our work addresses. A tech guy helped him to save them all because he was very beloved at his work. He told his co-workers about me and they probably thought we were insane. I’m sure they did. But I’m Facebook friends with one of his closest ex co-workers and I’m sure he knows, after a marriage and almost two kids, that we weren’t as insane as we must have looked back then…
24 to his 32. Never having met, and this was before Match.com and all of those websites became rampant. Oh, and we lived 3,000 miles away from each other. Yeah.. We were insane. And I liked it.
That night I stayed at work until 8:30 pm saying goodbye, as if we wouldn’t just be talking again the next day on our personal email addresses like we should have been doing all along! His last email from the ILM account read:
“bye T…see you on the other side.”
It had so many meanings to me. I’ve always been a believer in the Radio Gods, although it can be a very heated or very dormant relationship with them throughout life. That’s not to say I believe there are actual Gods in our radios! I just believe that sometimes there are certain times you turn to specific radio stations to hear exactly what you want or need to hear. That would happen all of the time back then. “Dreams” by Van Halen was a big one. I’ve often had the strange experience of hearing a very specific song every time I think of a certain person. And it’s never a popular song so it’s always strange to hear, even though it can happen daily. With one of my exes it was “Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks. With another, I kid you not, it was “Tainted Love.” Seriously. Daily. Might the Gods have been trying to tell me something? I’m no Song Reader, but that can’t be good.
With Cassidy back then, the song every day was “Someone Saved My Life” by Elton John. And that’s not a new song. It happened daily. For years I couldn’t even listen to it and to this day if I hear it, I shudder and shiver.
“You’re a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away, high away, bye bye”
Cassidy taught me so much about music, through email, phone calls, and eventually, in person. I had a classic rock upbringing but I wasn’t necessarily in that phase when we first fell in love. It was sort of always in my background as I went through the discoveries of Tori Amos, The Cranberries, The Cure, Ben Folds, Counting Crows, and more. Classic rock was always “home” to me. I learned so much about deep album cuts and rarities and gems through Cassidy. Classic rock has never since been or sounded the same to me. It’s eerie. Another song from that time was “Spread Your Wings” by Queen and “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” by Elton John. I taught him some too. “Destiny” by Zero 7. “Fortress Around Your Heart” by Sting was one we both already knew, but it took on a heated new meaning with one another. If I listen to it even now…WOW.
Our relationship was spiraling into a boiling frenzy. One night on the phone we both were thinking about strawberry fruit roll-ups at the same time. Quite randomly and deliciously. We were both half asleep and hungry. I was living on California time. I worked California hours and I stayed on the phone with him every night until HE got tired. Which as you can imagine, was quite late on east coast time. We exchanged songs and pictures daily.
Cassidy working security at the University of Chicago:
Back then, my most favorite ever. Brothers:
Cassidy and Stormy on the day Jerry Garcia died.
Sometime in mid June, I wrote to a close friend in response to an email she had sent about a guy she was CRAZY about:
“I know..about the whole “I want to marry him feeling.” I woke up this morning and saw that Cassidy had gotten up from band practice at 5am and emailed me sleepy rants and pictures of himself. And I said aloud, “I’m going to marry him.” And my roommate said, “huh?””
We talked a lot about California on the phone. One night he told me that he lived only a few blocks from Golden Gate Park and the idea just seriously blew my mind. I think living in Jersey your whole life, when even as a child you knew you couldn’t stay, eventually gets you to a fever pitch. I was so enamored by the whole thing. The thought of him, and that city by the bay in that golden state, by that park. It was too much to even comprehend. I mean if I started levitating or shooting lasers out of my eyes on a daily basis during this time, I wouldn’t have been surprised. The energy…the thoughts…it was too much. Too, too much.
I was delirious every night. One night I wrote a poem (and I don’t write poems) about what I thought it would be like to work for George Lucas. I was told it was quite like this:
“An army of George Lucas men trudge on and on
Through sleepless nights and unsatisfied dawns
Embittered Mondays and tri-hourly yawns
Songless hearts and humidifed lungs
This isn’t really an empty place
Just a midway point
A different pace
And some will fade, and melt, and scream
While others will resist, and play, and dream
I wish you could see
his jittered hands and sallowed skin
his windowed eyes and friday gin
I wish I could too”
If I ever write poetry, it’s usually in my sleep because I sure as heckfire don’t do that in waking life. Seriously. Never.
Finally at the tail end of June, we pretty much broke. Or rather, I broke. I couldn’t take it anymore! He had done a lot of traveling for Phish over the spring and had hurt his arm and was just waiting to settle down a little more before meeting. I, was losing my mind. So we planned for a weekend in mid July for me to fly there and see California for the first time. We also planned whale watching after a romantic drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. Sounds amazing, right? It eventually was…
That same day we planned the California trip, I had just seen the movie Hook and was going a little crazy about Tinkerbell saying to the adult Peter Pan, “You know that place between sleep and awake? That place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you… Peter Pan. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”
To say that line killed me would be an understatement. And it has killed me since.
Cassidy suggested an interim weekend in western Mass, a place I had never been! (Odd, huh?) He said his mom lived up there (here, as I write this) but would be in Alaska so we could crash there and then go up north to look for moose. He asked me if I thought that sounded good. This was at the end of June, to plan for July 4th weekend. I replied with one answer:
A few minutes later I said,
“I’m gonna have a panic attack at my desk.”
This was June 28th! He had to make sure it was ok with his mom. He had to book a flight, which would probably be incredibly steep by then. He had to find care for his dog, Stormy.
Somehow he found a cheap flight. For July 1st! (Three days away!) He found care for Stormy and reached his mom to let her know he was bringing a strange girl to her wonderful home. The flight was into JFK Airport, which was and still is in a scary, scary (to me) part of the world. Not close to me. Not easily accessible. Not cheap.
..but so worth it.
His flight was to come in at 10:00 pm on a Thursday, July 1st. 2004. He said:
“So yeah, I booked it and I hope that’s ok. I really can’t find any
words to describe all that I am feeling, or wondering about this
weekend. I just cannot say enough that I am very grateful and feel very
lucky to have the opportunity to get to meet someone who is…who is
really special to me.
and I know you know and it won’t be the last time I say it but…you can
trust me to the far ends of the earth and beyond and if you knew how
much I cared about your feelings and happiness. well, i care a lot.
I always have.
So I booked it. I’ll say it again, I booked it.”
My mom gave her “eloquent” blessings the same day in a few email responses:
“I think it’s gonna be wonderful, that’s what I think? No, you are not crazy, just a romantic like your father was and I am and lots of others!”
“That’s because he is REAL!!! I am so happy for you to met someone so wonderful and so happy for him to meet my wonderful daughter! Gotta go clean up horse poop but will pop in later!!!!!!!”
The next day passed in a blur until it was the morning of his flight. I heard Steve Winwood’s “While You See A Chance” on the radio that morning. I went to work. We talked by email until he had to leave for the airport. I was positively sick with nerves. I quoted Wayne’s World:
“I say hurl. If you blow chunks and she comes back, she’s yours. But if you spew and she bolts, then it was never meant to be.”
The last email exchange was this:
Me: “Well I’ll miss you. This you. Won’t know it anymore.”
Him: “I know. I know. This you and this me did a fantastic job getting us
here. and we’ll always remember them for that.
I left work early. I could walk on two legs, amazingly. I went home to shower and pack a bag. I made sure to put on my sexy maroon pants and my favorite jean jacket. We always talked about how much I loved that jean jacket and would wear it over everything. Somehow I ate something. I printed out directions to JFK Airport from New Brunswick, NJ. I got in the car. It was already dark out. I was on time. I kept looking at the passenger seat next to me and imagining that he’d be sitting in that seat within an hour. Within minutes. I drove and breathed steadily, somehow. I parked in short-term parking and found my way to an empty terminal. I paced the empty terminal and leaned my head against a cool glass window. He didn’t have a cell phone. I was early. Right? No. I looked up at the computer screen. His flight had landed minutes ago! That meant..oh man…that meant that he could already be off the plane! That meant he might be on his way to meet me! That meant…so many things.
Suddenly, a loud burst of noise met my silence. I turned to see a very large crowd of people walking towards me. A landed flight. I stood still against the flow of traffic as they rushed through me, next to me, in back of me, in front of me.
I stayed steady and looked ahead…