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