Previously: “The Promise” by When in Rome, Cassidy’s three week Family/Phish/Tamara tour, a San Francisco heat wave, a breakup that was backtracked after twenty minutes, and then a breakup that stayed…
…for at least two days!
This was the proposition in my inbox, two days after our tragic breakup:
“Hi – wrote this at 2am and promptly fell asleep on the couch before I
2am…night is just getting started. This is actually a night I don’t
mind being up so I can sleep on the plane tomorrow. So look…I know
I’m a mess right now and I am putting you through some hell but all day
I honestly could not think of a reason why we shouldn’t see each other
this weekend. Except my own insecurities. And I don’t want to give
into that…I feel I have been lately. So if you’ll have an idiot
prince in distress I would love to see you Tamara. I don’t know if your
parents want me dead but if they don’t I would love to see you at Artist
view. I get into JFK at 8:00pm. Would probably take me a couple hours.
I honestly cannot fathom being so close to you and not seeing you.
Thoughts? I can take a no if you made other plans or just don’t want
to, it’s ok. And..uh…good morning.
This was a Friday morning. He was getting there that exact night – late at night. And he had a wedding the next afternoon. It was the wedding I was not going to. I had to move that Sunday but let me tell you, I didn’t hesitate to respond with a “yes.” It was a downplayed, nonchalant, long and drawn out, trying to be cool, “yes” but in my head it was a, “Are you f@#kin’ crazy? Of course! I’ve been a miserable mess for a whole two days and it felt like two decades! Hell, yes! Hell, yes! Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes. Did I say yes?” That’s what I really wanted to reply but absolutely wouldn’t let myself do it.
I went out to lunch later with a bunch of work friends and I was giddy and crazy and feeling that things might be ok. We talked about it at lunch and they all agreed it was at least promising. I think one of them even said, “You have big eyes and Disney princess hair. He’ll probably be weak in the knees when he sees you.” It was a nice thought, one I didn’t share. I quickly called my parents too to ask if not only I could stay at their farm that night, but could the mysterious older man who broke their daughter’s heart for two whole days also stay over with me? And probably in the same room and maybe even in the same bed?
They said, “yes” as fast as I had. I wonder if they even thought, “Hell yes! F@#k yes!”
Before he left for the airport we had a lot of back and forth emails about expectations, or lack thereof, from seeing each other overnight. I felt strange about it for sure and mentioned that. He understood and told me I could call it off anytime I wanted. I replied that maybe I would but in my head, I replied, “Hell no I’m not calling it off! Are you kidding me??? I want you down on your knees, begging forgiveness to my big eyes and my Disney princess hair! Now.”
I was probably pretty edgy all day.
I don’t know his inner dialogue that day but his emails were clear-headed, and they hadn’t been when we had “broken up.” I asked him what he hoped to accomplish:
“Honestly, no agenda. We don’t need to stay up all night talking, but we can. Or we could play scrabble. I dunno. felt like being around you.”
My downplayed response was that I don’t play Scrabble, because it feels too much like school. Which, oddly, someone said to us the other day in present day life! The response in my head was, “Oh hell no are we playing Scrabble because you will be mine. Mine, mine, mine!” I guess it’s probably good we don’t let our inner dialogues win out sometimes…
After work and dinner, I headed to my parent’s house. My mom and I stayed up, excited and giddy that he would show up on our doorstep around midnight. It felt a little too unreal to me and I asked her to pinch me a few times. Suddenly, a dark shadow appeared on the doorstep and my parent’s really annoying dogs began their, “Someone is here!” howl to let us know we were “in danger.” Trust me, I already knew someone was there. I could feel my heart pounding, probably the second he drove past the “Welcome to Blairstown” sign, en route to our farm. Trust me, I also knew I was “in danger.” Dogs are really smart that way. When he stepped inside, my mom hugged him first and I hung back, unsure of how to be/act/say/do. He took care of that for me by scooping me right up in his arms and embracing me wholeheartedly. I think he even lifted me off my feet for a few seconds. I hugged back just as fiercely.
It was nice that we could tell just how much we missed each other.
My mom asked us both if we were hungry and we just looked at each other. Hungry? We were ravenous. My mom made us farm-fresh scrambled eggs. Midnight eggs. It was probably even better than midnight ravioli. No eggs have ever tasted better. I remember sitting at the high counter in my parent’s farmhouse kitchen, eating eggs, and sneaking glances at him to make sure he was still there..and that he was real. It seemed like a dream that I had started that very day with a broken heart, and now a few emails and a five hour flight later, he was sitting next to me in the night. After eggs, we fell asleep in an exhausted embrace.
We took cell phone pictures the next morning:
There was some sort of weather disaster that day. There must have been some sort of storm or tropical storm out there on the NJ/PA border and there were extreme road closings due to mud. My parents kept trying to figure out the best route for Cassidy to get to his wedding on time, and it was complicated. Of course, he had survived the extreme “Mudgate” at the Coventry, VT Phish shows so this probably wasn’t so scary to him. He got there just fine, and let us know. All day and night long, I couldn’t wait for him to come back from the wedding. He arrived back in the middle of the night again, setting the dogs off again. There was a bright moon that night and he was changing from his suit into travel clothes in my parent’s living room. The moonlight was shining on his muscles and I couldn’t look away. I must have looked like such a pervert, standing there open-mouthed, watching him undress. Luckily, my parents stayed asleep. We hung out for awhile but his flight was at…you guessed it…JFK Airport at some terrible hour, like 6:00 am. So even though I had gotten him back, we had to say goodbye that night. It was a longer goodbye than normal, with what seemed like much more at stake. It was hard for me to trust his feelings, but I also felt the love there stronger than ever, so I thought maybe it would be ok. I stayed outside by his car with him for much longer than any goodbye of mine ever, and then sent him on his way to his two hour, toll-filled car ride.
I had a restless night, and then had to move into my apartment the next afternoon. It was a Sunday and I spent my first night there alone for the first time in life, and only half-unpacked. I got back to work and to flirty Cassidy emails. One of my favorite quotes from him was:
“At age 30 you are going to be so hot….it will be scary.”
30 wasn’t our greatest year, for sure, but I hope I lived up to the hotness he once described. Somehow I doubt it. Maybe 29.
My sister’s birthday was that Monday. Her ex-boyfriend had planned a surprise trip to San Francisco for her that week, and I had helped him. When things were uncertain with Cassidy, they figured they could just stay in a hotel or something. When things were back on track, they did spend some quality time with him. My sister had never been to California either but she has the same San Francisco bug as me and was pretty floored by it all. I know they lived it up very well up there. She secretly called me on one of those nights and said how cute it was that when she talked about me to Cassidy, his face would turn bright red. I’m a blusher myself, and I certainly blushed when she told me that. It made me so incredibly happy because my sister is a good judge of character and she would never tell me that if she wasn’t feeling it strongly.
In our flirty emails, we had decided that we wanted to one day have alpacas and musk ox. We figured that alpacas could represent tauntauns and the musk ox could represent banthas. We also decided that we’d have children, a daughter first, and name her “Leia.” And let me tell you, most of our friends were incredibly sure it was happening until the day Scarlet was born and we announced her real name. She really loves Princess Leia, though. And we had back then described our first-born as spunky, a little weird, sci-fi obsessed, beautiful and mystical. So…there’s that.
We started talking seriously now about a future. Our breakup scare had definitely spooked us both. Cassidy started looking for and applying to east coast jobs, mostly in Boston, but also in Jersey and near NYC. He never wanted to live near or in NYC and didn’t feel it would be a good place for Stormy. Back then I still had somewhat of a fascination and appreciation for NYC, that I now have for the country.
As September turned into October, it was time for my own freak-out, like he had had two weeks earlier. I cannot honestly say exactly what prompted it. I could have heard from my ex. Cassidy’s job applications to the east coast might have freaked me out. I was quiet for a few days and told him I was hurting. He sent a picture to cheer me up:
It broke my heart. I missed those two. I missed that couch. I wasn’t sure I wanted to take them out of that beautiful city. I was living alone for the first time in my life and wanting it to stay that way. I think?
Cassidy finally sat down to rent my favorite movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Watched at the wrong time, that movie can really kill you. He was afraid to watch it; afraid it would drudge up bad memories of his ex. Instead it made him think of me and of us, and he was glad when he woke up the morning after watching it that he could still remember me and that I could still remember him, unlike the poor characters in the movie:
“So yes dear, I am extremely glad I woke up and not only remembered you,
but felt the love that we have…mostly these days though I think a lot
about the wide and vast territory of what we have not yet had in Us.
The Undiscovered Country.”
Despite the confusion and insanity, we had this grand plan. It was really epic. We wanted to somehow all spend Thanksgiving of 2004 together. All of our families together. Us together. Both of our moms were really on board instantly. So were we.
He wrote to me on October 1st:
“How’s your Friday going? It’s cold
and looks like rain here today. Hey, it’s October! Did you ever think
we would be in love in October? That’s crazy. It was a year ago I
wrote that letter. I can write another one if you want to get yourself
in the SHI newsletter again. I do hope you have saved all that stuff.
We’ll need it for the wedding and all, right?”
That same day, and very suddenly, I hit a wall. I heard from my ex and told him about Cassidy. I hadn’t seen him in several months and he was going to be in New Brunswick soon and suggested that we meet up. It seemed inevitable. He still had feelings for me and I felt the same and it was such a strange situation. I felt more for my ex at times than Cassidy. Only on the surface. It was what I thought I felt. It was comfortable. A new world had opened up for me – California, New England, BIG love. It was like I wanted to shut out that new world and pretend it wasn’t there. I wanted to re-open my old world – NYC nights, a long term ex my own age, confusion and instability, but love. It was bad. Cassidy was pretty cool during these dark days. He asked me outright how I felt about my ex. I said:
“Cause even if you take (ex’s name) out of the picture, things are still up in
the air. You don’t know where you’re going to live, we don’t know
exactly how we’ll make it work, we just know we want to someday.
Sometimes I feel like you’re hard on me, and that it isn’t fun, because
it’s not fun if I’m always wondering if I’m doing something wrong, or
something not enough.
Other times, I realize all that is just obstacles that will pass.
If you put him back in the equation, then it sucks. It’s an unfinished
story while the pain is still there.”
Ugh, I hate reading that. I hate writing it. I hate to use my age as an excuse. I was 24. That is not the person I am today. And there are reasons for that. There are life events and heart lessons still to come.
He sent pictures of himself that drove me crazy, in a good way. He still looks like this to me:
He was watching me pull away, through emails, through talking about my ex as well as other guys interested in me at the time. He wrote a very long email with a very eloquent reaction. Here is just the important part:
“Actually, I am completely over “wanting to make it work someday”. I
want to make it work now. This feeling has been growing ever since I
got on a plane to come back here after my three weeks on the east coast
in August. For one, this city just doesn’t feel “right” to me anymore.
And I know that is a mixture of internal struggles with myself and
external struggles with my surroundings…i.e. friends, comfort level,
etc…I mean, it’s still beautiful here, it’s paradise and all, but I
want more. And what I want is you. I want to give our relationship the
absolute best shot at becoming what we want.”
And we hashed so much out, that very day. He was direct. I was defensive.
“I love you very much. My heart has belonged to you for a while now and
I am sick of putting our love through obstacles that when you break down
all the bullshit, don’t even need to be there. So I am going to remove
one very big obstacle and if you’ll have me on your side, I’d like to
move back home.”
I was pretty set on staying exactly where I was in Jersey. I had signed a new lease. I was looking to go into outside sales. I was attending seminars and interviews. Cassidy was still making plans for the east coast. He’d either go to Boston and visit me on weekends. Or he’d move to Jersey. Dreams turned into plans. He enlisted the help of his mom’s husband to help him move cross country. He gave his apartment building company his 30 days notice.
He was very excited. He had a lot of family and friends here to start his east coast life with.
I wasn’t excited. I don’t…know what I was. I was breaking down every day, at my desk, in the shower, at home alone. I would try to tell him…whatever I wanted to tell him…but I couldn’t be assertive enough to take the plunge. He would drag it out of me every now and then and he knew I was hurting and he was pretty understanding about it all. I almost wish he hadn’t been. He always was then.
He was moving forward. I was stepping back.
I started playing with fire. I got two kittens even though Cassidy has a northern dog and..you can’t have both. You just can’t. I started talking more to my ex. I met up with my ex. I told Cassidy it was a casual meeting, but it wasn’t. Nothing happened in the physical sense, but we met each other like old lovers just the same. Cassidy called me that night my ex was over, maybe more than once, and I let it go to voicemail. I had never done that before. It felt awful.
I kept thinking, “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.”
Oh god, did I love him so much. I was feeling a bout of temporary insanity. I was, as my sister’s made up verb says, “eternally sunshining” our love. Call it amnesia. Call it incredible stupidity. He felt me pulling away, farther and farther, and since we talked a lot about seeing each other again just for a quick trip, and not necessarily his big move, he booked a last minute trip to see me right away. It was a last minute attempt at something..anything. I don’t know what we both expected and why we both agreed to it. Were we ending? Were we beginning?
Did I already know? What was going to happen?