Vacation All I Ever Wanted.

For a week now, this post’s draft had the title “What Was, What Is, and What Will Be.”

Somewhere along the line, or you know, a second before I started writing this, it had a new title. Let’s see how it lives up to the new one! I have no idea yet – the hows and whys of this post. I think I’ll figure that out before the end. I often do.

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The end is the beginning. At the end of another story, I got the guy. Not just any guy, but the guy. The heartbreaker. The one that got away. The one I would possibly have thought about through every walk of life – peering down city streets or listening to the right/wrong song on the radio at the right/wrong time. It would have been ok. It always is. We heal with time. We move on and out. The people, places & things in our lives turn over so completely, that sometimes it’s hard to find the old hidden under all the clutter – of lives lived fully in our 20’s and 30’s. It would have been ok. It would have been different.

I would have lived happily, I imagine, with all of the pitfalls, traumas & joys of anybody’s life. Anybody working to be happy.

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I didn’t have to find that way. I’m finding this way. In this Once Upon a Time story, I got that certain guy. Not only that, I got a kid. And then another. The rest of it has been unfolding behind, slightly, messily, beautifully out of order.

The first time I went through the White Mountains of New Hampshire, as far as I can remember, was the weekend we first met. We met at JFK Airport in New York City, got lost in The Hamptons, drove all night to his mom’s house in western Mass, spent a few days there, and then drove up to Bethel, Maine, by way of the White Mountains. He took this with my camera:

There she is! (the mountain and the 25-year-old me)

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After we had broken up and I was on my strange quest to see moose again, without him, and to date again, without him, I went to the White Mountains many times. With many different guys too. I’m not necessarily proud of this, but I was so heartbroken and temporarily dead inside, that I was doing anything to feel alive again. If I went to the White Mountains with a guy, it generally meant I felt something for him. Maybe even something strong. Also I was 25. Sometimes that’s what you do.

This photo is my one NH moose. The rest I’ve seen in Maine, Vermont, Wyoming or Montana.

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I don’t remember how many times I went to the White Mountains in that two-year period, or with how many guys – a few serious and some just as friends. I remember every stretch of highway and all the little details, although they were all crunched together in my mind. One town, instead of miles and miles of moosey highway. I remember going to the Blueberry Muffin Restaurant. One day I sat there and watched a family with two kids and I thought, “One day I’ll have that. Love, marriage and kids. And I’ll take that love, that marriage, and those kids, right back here. And I’ll know – I made it back.”

I’ll let this screenshot of my Facebook status from last week tell the story.

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When I decided I wanted to come back to the White Mountains with my family for my birthday, I didn’t know what to expect. As with anything, it never looks the same. It never feels the same. We all go through swirls of change and time. I couldn’t help thinking along the way, about what my life used to be like, about what I wanted it to be like, and about what it is now.

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It’s funny to feel a little achy and a little mournful, while also feeling the joy. No matter what your wildest dreams are, sometimes when they unfold, they’re even better. More 3D. More achy. And they’re also even worse, while still being even better, because they’re no longer always glossed over by youthful imagination. They have cracks and gray hairs and stomachaches. There’s sometimes even a slight backache too. I used to drive away from the White Mountains and feel full of holes – for broken hearts and moose not seen. What I didn’t expect this time, was to drive away and still feel full of holes – even now. I’m a little proud of them, I guess. We all have holes in our hearts. We always will. The key is to not let those holes fill up with water and sink us. These holes are best served to let out some of the pressure inside, and to buoy us home again.

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I think it’s time for the photos part of the photo essay, don’t you?

Last year I was on the verge of panic attacks for Des’ birthday, Scarlet’s birthday and then mine. This year I sailed through their birthdays with no problems, but I did have anxiety the day before my birthday. We had Scarlet’s summer camp play (adorable) and then a four hour drive to New Hampshire. By the time we got to our surprise rented condo (Thanks, Cassidy!) I couldn’t shake the anxiety. Even though we were all so excited to be in a condo and in walking distance from Story Land.

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It’s rare for me to have an anxiety attack I can’t shake. Usually it takes ten minutes. This was..considerably longer. Cassidy knew and I told him I was anxious and exhausted. He took the kids to get dinner and I decompressed in the condo for an hour. They came back, I felt better and we went for a drive to get dinner for me (Red Fox Bar & Grille) and to see mountains.

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The bad spell finally, completely broke and I was ok. I woke up on my birthday morning a little apprehensive, especially because Des ate such a big piece of banana before we went out that he sort of barfed it out on the rug (I’m a vomit-phobic) but the spell really was broken. Breakfast was at The Blueberry Muffin, as previously mentioned, and everyone smiled at us and wished me a Happy Birthday. We really had become that family I had once envied, years ago. Then we continued our day.

First stop – Conway Scenic Railroad for a half hour ride. Bonus – it was Thomas the Train day. We rode Percy.

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Then we took a gondola up to the top of Wildcat Mountain (4062 feet) and hiked the forests up there. Scarlet was a natural at leading the way. She kept calling it “bondola”, which was adorable, but sadly she learned the truth soon in.

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Then we did the Mt. Washington Auto Road! It was foggy and as scary as I remember. Also, I got clam chowder at the top. (a life dream) I ate it alone while the kids went to the gift shop and I was among many sweaty hikers.

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After all that, we went to Story Land.

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Well. This is awkward. That Raggedy Andy guy is my ex! (just kidding)

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I think maybe Scarlet could tell that this Cinderella looked different from the one at Disney World. What do you think?

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After Story Land, we had dinner and they sang to me with ice cream. Then we looked for more moose, to no avail.

It was perfect.


Comments

Vacation All I Ever Wanted. — 92 Comments

  1. Your birthday this year was certainly one to remember for many years! I’m very happy that you had a perect birthday. The photos tell the story that it was a wonderful birthday experience for everyone! You and Cassidy,Des and Scarlet so deserved that, Tamara!

    • Thank you so much! The photos were fun, and I’m also happy I didn’t take too many. Sometimes it’s better just to live the moments.
      We loved the whole thing!

    • Thanks! Perfect was the word.
      And it’s so strange to find yourself somewhere you once visited, but you’re different. But not!
      I had that with Toronto years ago but it was so different and not in good ways.
      Luckily this was positive.

  2. Haha, Raggedy Andy! He looks a little out of sorts with all those Princesses! But, hey maybe he is just that lucky to spend his days with all those women! Your husband got a haircut, right? Looks sharp and probably cooler for the summer. I am jealous of all of the rain and beautiful green where you are at on vacation, please send some rain my way oh, and sprinkles. That would be awesome! Happy, Happy Birthday!

    • Raggedy Andy! I know! I don’t even know if that’s who he was, but I liked calling him my boyfriend.
      Cassidy and Scarlet got haircuts last week, yes! And Des and I had gotten haircuts a few weeks before. No one can tell mine.
      It’s so green and wet up there. It can be warm but the top of the mountain was about 40-50 degrees! I had forgotten how that felt! The valley was more like 70, but it was weird.

  3. I am so glad that you got all you wanted out of your vacation and that you ended up having a wonderful birthday! Your pictures and those mountains are beautiful! Perhaps, someday, I’ll get to visit them too!

  4. Oh my goodness, I was in Conway last summer – that very train station. But also, no Thomas:(. Oh, Cammy and Barrett would have just died on the spot. I’m impressed that you went up Mt. Washington! I swear, next time I am doing that!

    • Oh, wow! We could have met in Conway! The Thomas thing travels. It was here in April but we missed it because it was cold April rain that day. (that magical New England stuff)
      Mt. Washington freaks me out. I’ve only been a passenger both times. I think I’d get really nervous as the driver!

  5. I could read and re-read your words over and over again… because they soak in my heart so smoothly, with ease and wonder and tears and emotion. Oh T- you don’t even need the awe-inspiring photos to go with them… because your words are so poetically powerful- they stand so strong on their own. But THEN… the images you reveal along with your depth…

    I am always so deeply moved by you. Such a gift you are, my friend. It’s all just such a gift. Thank you for letting me unwrap it over and over again here on your blog. I’m so blessed by you!!!

    • Aw.. Chris! Thank you! I needed that. We all know I need to write like this often, and I missed it last week with only sponsored posts. I’m last minute with deadlines, I suppose.
      Anyway, I really needed to hear this. It had been awhile.
      You’re a gift!

  6. What a great time. So happy for you and your family! We just got back from a vacation in the Adirondacks and did some hiking as well – my daughter is crazy for hiking. Gotta be thankful for each moment of joy:)

    • Thanks! I totally did. That’s why on Facebook I said I wasn’t mentioned names.. ahem.
      He was right there! Not breaking my heart. Ordering breakfast. Good times.

  7. It looks perfect! And such a romantic story! πŸ™‚ Somehow I think the right stories just work themselves into our lives. πŸ™‚

  8. I love so much about this post I’m not sure where to begin. Ok let’s start with the new title, which I love. It’s beautiful and connects every part of your story – finding and losing and finding your true love, your beautiful vacation photos and Story Land.

    This line resonated with me so much:

    “It’s funny to feel a little achy, a little mournful and also feel joy.”

    Yes, the bittersweet mess of memories is exactly that: achy yet lined with joy.

    I love that you returned to that diner, and I love that your wish came true.

  9. It sounds like you had a wonderful birthday! It’s so beautiful and inspiring that you went back to the restaurant with your family. I love it when people’s dreams come true πŸ™‚

    • Me too!! I live for people’s dreams coming true. I used to want to go into business doing so.. but I had no idea how. So I’ll just settle for my family’s dreams!

  10. You tell the story of YOUR day so well. It’s almost as if I was there. And those pictures – wow – gorgeous. And, yo know me, I am not only talking about your kid pictures πŸ™‚ Actually talking about kid pictures, I have to say this, the big picture of Des and half of Cassidy’s face – they soooo look alike, it is amazing. Like two big kids totally in awe of what they are looking at.
    I am very glad that your birthday weekend away turned out so great!

    • I do know you! And I take that compliment times x1000!
      It’s amazing how alike Cassidy and Des look in photos. Sometimes I look at Des and I just see my own grandfather’s face looking back at me.

  11. Tamara this was seriously such a great story for your birthday. Same restaurant, same place, a bit of the past converging with the present. And those Thomas trainsβ€”my kids would’ve swooned over that. I’m sorry to hear you had a longer than expected anxiety attack but I’m glad you were able to weather it out.

    • Thank you about the story!
      The anxiety was a bit rough but it was mostly during the drive there, so I didn’t really miss anything, ya know? Just a few hours of Des whining that he had to pee!
      Who ever said potty training before a trip was a good idea?

  12. I love this and happiest of happy birthdays to you! I love reading your stories and how they unfold along with your photos. Love that you got to go back to the diner with your love and family and kids.

  13. This such a beautiful and happy ending to a story that started all those years ago. Who knew that with that broken heart you would be back at that very place you said you would be with a now unbroken heart and that very man?
    One day I will make it up to the White Mountains and Storyland. For the latter I think it makes sense for us to wait until Eve is old enough to appreciate it. Who knows, maybe even next summer!
    Happy birthday, my friend!

    • I think you’re right. I waited until Scarlet was three or so but then we never went that summer. It’s not even that far but this was finally the year we went. I think waiting is a great idea so she can remember it! And go on rides.

    • And the table thing was such a coincidence! There seemed to be a line so I was surprised to be instantly seated. Also, I got incredible news while sitting at that table. Nothing I can write about yet.. but I will.
      Magical.

  14. I feel like this story wants me to call it “full circle” but that would imply that it’s over and it’s not. I guess I’ll call it a full circle moment. That sounds better.

  15. How cool was it that you guys got to see Thomas and Percy. My kids love Thomas and Friends.
    I’m glad that you were able to go back to the diner with the family that you said you would have one day.

    • haha, right? They’re not white! Although they still had snow into July so I suppose they are very white for at least half of the year.
      I remember the first time I saw them – they were positively purple from a distance.

  16. I loved this story of your birthday (minus the anxiety attack and the banana puke). I’m a vomit-phobic too. Can’t cope with the stuff; I dry-heave at the slightest smell of it. Ugh. Feeling queasy now, moving on.

    What wonderful pictures. Storyland looks amazing! I wish we had something like that here. How very, very cool!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Wishing you a lovely day.
    xoxo

    • That’s rough being vomit-phobic in that contagion way, and having kids!
      It doesn’t make me gag or vomit as well, but I get fight or flight for sure. Like pounding heart, shortness of breath. It’s scary. I’ve certainly gotten better in the last year – because Des had two stomach viruses over the winter.

  17. I remember seeing that family photo on your FB. So happy that your birthday ended up to be filled with mostly happy memories and that you all had a great weekend away!

    • It was so great, thank you! Scarlet said today, “I really like it when it’s your birthday.”
      Well no doubt – it doesn’t generally have this much fanfare! I think I need to keep it up.

  18. What a magical vacation! It was during one of our vacations a long time ago that Emmy used to call water “wa-wee” and I loved it. Then her big sister taught her one day to say “wa-ter.” I was sad. Scarlet’s “bondola” reminded me of that story!

  19. I love that you got to go back with your kids!! This reminds me of when Alan and I went back to where we became a couple, the old University campus, and it was so surreal b/c I felt happy and sad to be there at the same time. There were just too many ghost me’s walking around. You know? I hope you all had a great time. I think I have a very similar anxiety problem to yours. I’ve been on and off medication over the years to help me deal with it, but it’s like sometimes big events, or even small milestones, or home schooling for the first time, just really put me over the edge, and I become mean, edgy April. Your relationship sounds so great. I’m so happy for you that you have Cassidy. This is such a feel good post!

    • Ahh, so cool about the college visit. That must be so strange. I haven’t been back to mine and I met Cassidy a few years after I graduated, so it just has so many other ghosts for me.
      Interesting about the anxiety! I’ve never been on medication for it, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it. I think taking the edge off is awesome. I have to compensate by doing like 17 other things to cope sometimes.
      And it’s really only through big events and transitions. It can be dormant for years.

  20. You could easily make your blog into a book. I feel you’re one of the few that could pull this off. Many have tried, but… eh.

    But YOU. Your pictures, together with your words could heal people. Or maybe help them to “feel” again. Or simply just bring them some smiley moments as they read like it does for me. Whatever way you slice it, your book would be like therapy to the reader. So in closing I will say: Write the damn book!

  21. Perfect. So happy to see that your birthday included that word. Sorry to hear that it started with anxiety, but the rest of the journey sounds like it was everything you needed. And to have it all come full circle like that is so wonderful.

    • I’m so glad the anxiety disappeared for the actual birthday. It was just during the long car ride to the mountains. And just all the mystery around it – because I am not good at surprises, and this was all one big one!

  22. I love reading your blog posts. Your style of writing, as I have always said, is absolutely engaging. I loved reading about your experiences over the years with the white mountains and seeing that you were able to take your family there in the end. Congratulations of fulfilling that personal goal.

    Tamara, I can only wish to write as beautifully as you!

    Chelsea

  23. You have one of the most amazing husbands on the face of the planet. Oh and have I mentioned that your kids are pretty perfect too? I obviously don’t see what goes on BEHIND closed doors, however, I feel as though you do reveal a lot on social media πŸ˜‰ So I sometimes feel like I live in your house with you – ha ha! Creepy? NO WAY!

    And I am thrilled you had the perfect birthday. I shall send Molly the Moose your way! πŸ˜‰

    • BEHIND closed doors isn’t much different. Sometimes Des sings about body parts and often he makes me so annoyed that I want to scream. Cassidy can be grumpy and I can be anxious. Scarlet.. she’s pretty much amazing.
      What you see is what you get!
      Come live with us!

  24. It goes without saying…your images are beautiful. My favorite thought (and I’m jealous) is that of Percy the number 6 engine. We’ve seen Thomas so many times and my son kept on asking for Percy, Edward or Gordon.

  25. Woah, Tamara. In the feels with this one today. Especially this, like a sucker punch to the heart. I totally TOTALLY understand this, my friend. “We all have holes in our hearts. We always will. The key is to not let those holes fill up with water and sink us.”

    LOVE your storytelling, your pictures, your journey, and watching everything unfold for you. I know what it means to see things with different eyes, to return to a place you once loved and see it differently, changed by our experiences in the world. You have such a beautiful heart and I love that you were able to enjoy your birthday breakfast with your family, as you once knew you would. Life is so funny sometimes, isn’t it? XOXO

    • Thank you for loving this post so much! I really needed to get it out a certain way, or else I couldn’t be bothered. It was important.
      I’m so thankful for this story and that it’s mine, and that I have this way to share it.

    • Thank you so much. It’s one of my favorites because it means so much, and not because I think the writing/photography are best. In fact, they’re as messy as my love story!

  26. AMAZING!! I was feeling emotional with your story about going back to that restaurant with your own family after so many years. I’d love a trip to the mountains on a special day!

  27. It’s always an amazing thing when I take my kids back to a playground of my youth. the camping spot I fed a chipmunk nearly 20 years ago …. and they now hand feed a new little critter. the beach that I loved because you can walk out for miles it seems and still touch, and how my youngest finally actually swam because that safety net bottom was within reach. stories: same, yet different how they shine in their own magic light. but yes, perfect all the same.

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