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O Little Town of Bethel, Maine.

It was July 4th, and we drove into Bethel.

O Little Town of Bethel Maine. This week for Finish the Sentence Friday, we're writing about what we most love about July 4th. What would you say? Link up!

July 4th weekend, 2004: I had never heard of any of this – not Conway, Massachusetts – where we were standing together, and not Bethel, Maine – where we then went. I had never seen this man in front of me, until he stepped off a plane at JFK Airport and walked into my real life. I’d never seen a moose, until we stood in Conway after a sleepless night from NYC and called up the first Bed & Breakfast we saw in a Google search – A Prodigal Inn. “What are the chances of seeing moose in your town?” We asked. “Probably about as good as the chances of you seeing deer where you live.” Was the reply. We drove through dusky highways until we arrived in Bethel, and the town welcomed us with fireworks. Of course we knew they were for July 4th.

And yet, they started the second we drove into town, so we had no chance but to park the car and enjoy the show. Then we found our Inn after nightfall – full of warmth, fresh cookies, and the Titanic soundtrack. We spent all weekend falling in love and looking for moose. We found our first moose, and were so overwhelmed we slept until about 1:00pm the next afternoon.

O Little Town of Bethel Maine. This week for Finish the Sentence Friday, we're writing about what we most love about July 4th. What would you say? Link up!

After a late checkout, we wrote in the guestbook for the Innkeepers, Tom & Marcey, and anyone else to see. I wouldn’t see it for years and I’d often wonder what I had written. Marcey took a picture of what we wrote and sent it to us years later but that’s a love story SPOILER.

“Dear Tom & Marcey,

I could write that you played an all important role in an all important weekend but that would certainly be the understatement of the century. Ending up here & meeting you is unexplainable magic. Maybe one day we’ll be able to make sense of it. Until then consider us extremely grateful…and friends. As far as your ventures, business or artistic – I could not be less worried. Make sure you let us know all your successes. Wishing you so much peace, love & happiness, Cassidy Bowman, SF, CA

Tom & Marcey, We’ll be back one day – I’m sure of it. And hopefully we can sit around the breakfast table once again and catch up on all the magic and successes in our respective lives. Til then, I have a good feeling about it all. Good luck. Tamara, New Brunswick, NJ”

(The 6:00 minute mark..)

Somewhere between March – May, 2005: It had been six months since the breakup, and I still couldn’t cleanse him. My world had an entire tinge of darkness, which sounds completely melodramatic until you’re 25 with the worst broken heart you have ever found imaginable. I couldn’t get over his betrayal and all of the magic of what I thought we had. I decided to go to Maine alone. So I booked a hotel way up in Moosehead Lake, ten hours from home. I needed to know I could see a moose without him. I sat at a diner by myself and ate my eggs and hash while listening to people who were bewildered by the presence of computers in our lives.

They talked about the town line dance while I paid the check quietly and left a tip under the water glass. Somehow, accidentally or on purpose, I found myself going through Bethel on the long way home to NJ. Then I accidentally or on purpose found myself driving past A Prodigal Inn. And I saw him. Not Cassidy. He was long in California. I saw Innkeeper Tom walking across the lawn. I couldn’t face him. Not then and maybe not ever. I’d have to explain that it was all a distant dream anyway, and that my heart was so broken I never thought it would heal.

So I kept sobbing/driving along to..

Then I drove through heinous NYC traffic and into the home and bed of someone I loved just enough, but not nearly enough. At least not then. Not anymore. I was different then.

O Little Town of Bethel Maine. This week for Finish the Sentence Friday, we're writing about what we most love about July 4th. What would you say? Link up!

Obviously I saw moose. More than one.

June, 2006: I had finally fallen in love again, and it was love enough. It really was. My best girl friend, Nora, and I set out for a New England road trip together – to Boston and then up to Bethel, Maine. We met my dear friends Christa and Charlie for dinner at Cheers, and then raced through the streets of Boston while listening to modern Madonna. It was hypnotic and dizzying and I was stone sober. Even after Cheers, and everyone knowing my name. We stayed at a fancy hotel, went to a fancy aquarium, and then set off through The Big Dig to Bethel.

We then went on the Magical Moostery Tour, a self-guided printable PDF map, and didn’t see one moose. It got so late that I got lost in the darkness and it was honestly raining frogs. We stayed at a hotel that looked like The Shining and I took the cot, giving Nora the bed. I promised her a moose so we visited the Maine Wildlife Park the next day to see two. It wasn’t the same, but it was just enough. It was love enough. (She’s the blonde and Scarlet is in my belly:)

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August, 2006: It was time to take my new love, Dan, to Bethel, Maine. (because I’m weird?) We stayed in a crooked Bed & Breakfast and the floors made you feel like you might perpetually be falling. My hair was so long it was two tone, and reddish at the ends. We went on the Magical Moostery Tour and I saw one moose in the woods, but it ran off before he could see it. Dan stood on a mountain top and played French Horn, to the delight of other hikers/moose seekers. It was love enough. We ate delicious food and went to an alpaca farm that had two Great Pyrenees.

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December 2006/January 2007: A lot had changed. I was so happy with Dan, and so strong, until Cassidy called me on my birthday, after two years of no phone calls or anything. That was the beginning of the end, but also the end of the beginning. By September, we had seen each other. By October, we had visited Yosemite together. And by December, we called up Tom and Marcey and asked if we could get a room at A Prodigal Inn to ring in 2007. We got each other at least a dozen presents each and celebrated belated Christmas and New Year’s Eve and Day together. Being there, two and a half years after the weekend we had met, was overwhelming, to say the least. I got to tell Tom about the time I saw him on his lawn and sobbed in my car.

We saw no moose, but we weren’t really looking anyway..

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I moved out to California in April 2007, we were in engaged by June, and married the following April in 2008. We were headed to New England by October 2008, and I was surprisingly pregnant too, but we wouldn’t find that out until November 2008.

May, 2009: I was 30 weeks pregnant and we visited Tom and Marcey in Bethel. They were going to move to Arizona and weren’t running the Inn anymore, but they let us stay in a fancy room.

We drove around for an hour and saw six moose.

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October 9th, 2015: We booked a hotel and packed our suitcases. We wanted our kids to see moose. And we wanted our kids to see Bethel. And they did, and they did again. It all started with Bethel, Maine on July 4th, 2004. I can’t wait to get back. It was the MOST amazing July 4th.

moose in Bethel, Maine

I’m linking up with Finish The Sentence Friday (FFTS) for another great prompt. This week’s topic is “What I love about 4th of July..” And there’s still time to write yours. Link up HERE.

So, what would you say?

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  1. Awesome story, Tamara, and very heartfelt and honest. I’m excited to see what your kids think about the inn! And I’m glad the story turned out all right, even after the hiccup in the middle.

    1. Thank you!! I really believe we will. We have a no-fail plan in action. I hope I’ll be able to post from FB from there. I should be fine right in town, but we will be going off-roading too!


  2. While I love all your stories I’m really in love with this one. I can imagine you sitting and writing it and I’m so happy that everything turned out great in the end. Here’s hoping for more moose this time when you go back and the kids I’m sure will enjoy it along with you. So much memories but all great ones.

  3. You’re going to write a novel someday, Tamara. Each month and year is like a new chpter in this most entertaining blog! I didn’t want your story to end. I could have kept on reading. I love the songs that you shared with us, and I listened to them all. I hope it will be a fun weekend for everyone, and I will be hoping all weekend long for moose sightings.

    1. I hope so, Eddie. A novel is probably my biggest life dream, up there with multiple moose and northern lights.
      I can’t wait to report back here. You know I will!!

    1. Ah, thank you so much!! I LOVED writing this story. I had no business doing so today, but if I don’t do one or two posts like this a week these days, I feel like I’ll burst.

  4. I love love love this story! You’re amazing. I hope the kids find it as magical as you know it is and I hope you get to see lots and lots of moose!

  5. Oh, I got all (happy) teary eyed reading this! It reminded me of Eve being a newborn and nursing her and only just starting to get to (virtually) know you and then feeling like I knew you and wanted to know you. (And now I do, yay!)
    I hope you have an amazing time in Maine this weekend, and see all the moose! I can’t wait to hear about your trip. Enjoy!

    1. I remember when I started reading your blog and you announced your pregnant soon after! So cool to think back. I knew I wanted to know you more too!

  6. You totally transported me with this. I love your writing and how you weave your stories together. All the twists and turns that seem like happenstance but aren’t really at all. I can’t wait to read the next chapter. Have the most amazing time.

    1. Ah, thank you so much.
      I can’t wait to write it.
      It will make me feel better to finally write it down because I’m bummed that the weekend has ended.

  7. Isn’t it amazing the twists and turns life takes us on? It’s hard to go through it, but looking back on some of the hardest point in my life I realize how they made me who I am today and ready for what I have today. Thanks for sharing your story and life so freely with us. Hugs!

    1. I totally have! I think it hasn’t yet formed, though. I don’t quite know the format or length and all of that. I think I’ll figure it out, though!

  8. Wow, you remembered everything that happened from years ago. It’s very magical and now you’re bringing the kids!! So much love ♥

  9. I loved your story! Having following your blog for a while the idea of you all together in Bethal and seeing a moose is kind of mind-blowing! I cannot wait to see your photos and I am sure it will be a blissful journey no matter what!

    1. I am so happy you feel the weight of it, because I feel it so much.
      It was surreal being back there. And it also felt totally fitting. Bizarre.

  10. There’s nothing more magical than sharing your magical stories with your kids. We were at lunch over the weekend and FJ kept requesting family stories be told to our guest. I was shocked at how many stories she remembers of my childhood. Maybe she’ll be a blogger and family historian someday!

  11. Did you see Moose damnit?!?! I want to see Moose! And Deer.. And Llamas.. Especially llamas. Especially llamas that are dressed up for Christmas. But specifically: llamas!!! 🙂

    1. Iva, we did!! We did!!
      As for llamas, as you know, the llama farm is straight through my woods. Yesterday the guy was standing outside in a tie-dyed t-shirt and had a llama decorated with rainbow beads next to him. It was.. a picture.
      Also, I was driving by the farm a few days ago and saw what was either an alpaca or a baby llama. I will investigate further. If it’s a baby, what time can I expect you for dinner?

  12. I swear this makes me want to go read the *long version* of your story with Cassidy… oh what a story, just reading this I can only imagine what more comes in between these lines, these dates, these moments.

    I want to know why the break up?

    I suppose I need to get my ars over to read it all, yes?

    I’m just so glad for happy endings. And love winning after all.

    1. Yes, read it!!
      I can’t tell you the reason for the breakup. One because.. SPOILERS.. but also because there’s not such a clear answer. It’s.. long and arduous.

  13. I remember reading your 20-part love story a while ago, and still love hearing new details. It’s so interesting to hear how one little town in Maine could have had such an impact on the life of a girl from New Jersey. Can’t wait to hear how it all went with the kids!

  14. It’s fun reading this blog again Tamara. Your songs are so cleverly connected! My extended family and dear friends are keeping alive a very special tradition of 4th of July get-togethers. Watching the 4th of July parade march right past my Milltown family’s house while all of us sat on the front lawn followed by the all day cookouts, and the fireworks at night are among my favorite memories.

  15. I still LOVE this story, and it’s funny because as I was reading it, I thought “has she written about this before? I remember some of this but maybe it’s part of the love story…” then I saw the date in the comments (and my old comment) and was all “DUH!”
    What a perfect beautiful post to link up. MWAH!!!

  16. I can’t believe I know nothing of the Moose chronicles! I mean I know of your very real and deep-seated love of mooses but not ALL THIS (waves hands emphatically). I’m sorry about the hiccup in the middle but sometimes that is what love and life are all about. This is all soo Beauty written and I’m happy to be here today. And also I’ve missed your face a lot. Hugs

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