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Who Am I Without You By My Side

“Tell me, what is my life without your love?
And tell me, who am I without you by my side?
Tell me, what is my life without your love?
And tell me, who am I without you by my side?”

Tell me, what is my life without your love? And tell me, who am I without you by my side? Tell me, what is my life without your love?

I feel like we have so much to cover, and in so little time, so I’m glad that Finish the Sentence Friday is taking its time getting back on its feet. And I LOVED getting a chance to write like that again. For now, though, we are still in sharing mode. We had Maine and Minneapolis, and then we had COVID! And then we had Boston FanExpo (we MET Ewan McGregor – so tune in next week) and a trip to New Jersey for my friend Nora’s wedding! Plus the adventures of daily life, with four kids, three dogs, a cat, work, and mental health too. So we went to New Jersey virtually kid-free, and I say that because we “only” took one kid – the exclusively breastfed one. And when you have four kids, even two or three feels like nothing, so one? A total breeze! My sister and her family came up here to meet Sawyer and watch the kids. It’s funny that she came from NJ to MA, and we left MA for NJ. For one thing, we needed the pets watched, but the main reason is because the kids had repeating camp plays on Saturday and Sunday and we needed to finagle getting to at least one in the face of NJ and NY traffic. Could we do it? Well, yeah we could do it!

And Lindsay and Mike took care of our older three and got them to the Saturday play!

Lindsay, Mike, Emmy, and Parker came up last Friday so we got almost 24 hours with them of fun, toddler wrangling, and baby holding. The wedding was for my dear friend, Nora, who I worked with at SHI. That was the company I met Cassidy through because I was his sales rep when he worked for Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). Honestly, and I wrote this on Facebook, it’s been hard to maintain special friendships over the years:

“I’m definitely an odd duck. I’m bad in crowds and hard to get close to. I’ve never been a girlfriends type of person and I’ve never really retained “best friends” except for my sister and daughter, of course.

There’s been long distance and having (four!!) kids but it’s really been my anxiety struggles that have kept me from being more immersed in nurturing friendships over the last several years. I hate that so much, but I still feel young. And I know that I love these three women so much.”

Tell me, what is my life without your love? And tell me, who am I without you by my side? Tell me, what is my life without your love?

These three women from the baby shower photo (pregnant with Scarlet) and in the first photo of this post are such dear friends to me. Nora and I used to spend every weekend together and would go for coffee dates during our busy workdays. She didn’t work for SHI anymore when I left, but the bond was strong. I remember that when I moved to California, I was sitting in the SF apartment in stunned silence that I had upended everything I had ever known, and she sent out a Tom Petty song (Into the Great Wide Open) to me over the radio. My sister was a rock DJ in New Jersey back then and you could listen to the radio station online. I always knew I wanted to leave New Jersey, but I guess I never realized the extent of how hard it would all be. Sometimes debilitating mental health stuff got in the way, and the years sort of melted away. They’ve been long, but I feel like I wasted my 30s on anxiety. With that realization, and after my Uncle Jamie’s death this summer, I realized that there was NO way I was going to miss this special wedding.

Nora and Brian have a fairytale story. It’s not mine to share, but that’s all you need to know!

And so, we set off last Saturday morning with our littlest, Sawyer, and our knowledge that it was going to be a long ride. And long it was! Just getting through the George Washington Bridge with a hungry baby was a special kind of hell, but it was sunny and we were excited. It took us five hours to get to the hotel in Freehold, NJ! We instantly ran into old friends at the lobby, that I had last seen at my friend Sue’s wedding five years ago. Then we got to our room and the a/c wasn’t working! They kept saying they’d send someone up but eventually we had to get ready for the wedding so we dealt with it and left. The venue (South Gate Manor) was professional and beautiful. I mean it was eerily beautiful with fountains and glowing light and glittery, dreamy things. And it smelled good! We got seats on the aisle, because baby, and then I couldn’t stop grinning seeing my friends walk down the aisle. With the loud noises and heat, Sawyer did NOT last, so Cassidy could watch but not hear the ceremony from the nice, cool cocktail party room.

It was very hot!

Tell me, what is my life without your love? And tell me, who am I without you by my side? Tell me, what is my life without your love?

Tell me, what is my life without your love? And tell me, who am I without you by my side? Tell me, what is my life without your love?

Tell me, what is my life without your love? And tell me, who am I without you by my side? Tell me, what is my life without your love?

“Tell me, what is my life without your love?
And tell me, who am I without you by my side?”

Nora is a music person so the music was stunning. Her father walked her down to, “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Nora’s mother and Brian’s father had both passed years ago, but you could feel their presence. Nora and I both have a thing about rainbows and loved ones and there was a prism rainbow over the ceremony. It was a mixed faith wedding with a female rabbi and a male.. priest? Minister? I’m sorry that I don’t know but they both were awesome! Once Brian broke the glass, the crowd yelled, “Mazel Tov!” and they played George Harrison’s “What Is Life.” Everyone cheered, cooled off in the cocktail party room, and loved on the AMAZING food. It was basically like a meal before a meal because they had a whole pasta bar. And I had an awesome mocktail to cool off with! I hadn’t eaten since my hotel room goody bag! It was about to get CRAZY.

We were by the door so we were the first people to walk into the wedding reception and it was LOUD! Sawyer literally lasted two minutes, if even. So we went into the van so I could nurse him (it involved dress finagling) and by the time we got back, we had missed the bridesmaids being called out. We got to see the bride and groom dance, and the mother/groom and father/bride but Sawyer was DONE. Sadly, Cassidy had to go back to the hotel with him and it wasn’t even an air-conditioned room at that! Luckily they took pity on our situation and comped our room, so yay to the awesome Radisson. Sawyer went to sleep and then Cassidy got set up with fans while I enjoyed the party. And enjoy, I did! It was weird, though. I was feeling existential because these are the people I lived my mid-20s with but everyone still looks and acts young. And it was weird being there alone. I loved my table and I SO loved the food, but I didn’t want to dance. I have a weird thing where I can only dance when the feeling overtakes me. Then it’s like I’m in a trance.

It hasn’t happened in ages.

Tell me, what is my life without your love? And tell me, who am I without you by my side? Tell me, what is my life without your love?

And then, two magical things happened. The first was dessert! It was a dessert ROOM, but I’ve been to dessert rooms. This was literally anything you could imagine EVER. There was an entire fair section with cotton candy, candy apples, hot pretzels, and funnel cakes. There was a donut machine, a chocolate fountain with cascading plates of foods to dip in there, freshly baked cookies, an ice cream sundae bar, and these made to order milkshakes. There were breakfast sandwiches with eggs, cheese, and bacon, and waffles too. Waffles for breakfast. Waffles with ice cream on top. There were cakes and brownies and pies and pastries. And of course, there was cake. Wedding cake and also about 18 types of petit fours and slices of cakes. Dessert heaven. The conversations there were so lovely too. Many people who knew the bride’s mother said she would have loved it so much because she had quite the sweet tooth. I wish I could have met her.

After dessert, with only a half hour of the night remaining, people were trickling out. I could call Cassidy for a ride, but he’d have to wake up the baby and bring him. I could get an Uber. Or I could wait for the free shuttle. The DJ played Wilson Phillips “Hold On” and my three good friends, and a few others, all gathered in a circle to dance and sing. That was the moment I couldn’t resist, and I had to join them and it felt SO good to be on the dance floor. It would have been a little tragic to have missed this special moment so I’m glad I got over myself! Then the night ended and I boarded the hotel shuttle, watching the NJ night pass by the window. I was slaphappy at that point and made a joke about saving a bus seat for the takeout container of desserts I had with me. We all said goodnight and then I went to the room to feed the baby and go to bed because I had a dream to wake up and see the ocean. I hadn’t seen it in almost three years and we were only about 20 minutes from Asbury Park. With such an early start, we’d get back in plenty of time to see the kids’ play on Sunday, so we set our alarms to wake up at 5.

It was.. worth it.

Tell me, what is my life without your love? And tell me, who am I without you by my side? Tell me, what is my life without your love?

Tell me, what is my life without your love? And tell me, who am I without you by my side? Tell me, what is my life without your love?

Tell me, what is my life without your love? And tell me, who am I without you by my side? Tell me, what is my life without your love?

And then we drove home to no traffic, and got to see our kids’ wonderful play. It was sad to say goodbye to my sister and her family, because I hadn’t seen them in SIX months, which is rather disgusting. We’ll see them plenty this fall, I predict! It’s been less than a week since the wedding but I have so many thoughts. It’s weird when you have experiences in which you’re treading water in magical places. That’s been my whole summer, from Maine to Minneapolis to the NJ finale. Maybe you’re not feeling like yourself or maybe you’re in a depression or anxiety spell or feeling doom and gloom. Whatever it is, it’s not what you have imagined life could be; or how you’d be. And yet these experiences still make their way into the nostalgia portion of your heart.

Love and magic just seep in. They’re unstoppable, really.

And it’s wonderful to be able to absorb it from all sides.

sun and clouds over the new NYC skyline

“What I feel, I can’t say
But my love is there for you anytime of day
But if it’s not love that you need
Then I’ll try my best to make everything succeed”

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4 Comments

  1. Tamara, I’m so happy that you and Cassidy got away, even with baby Sawyer. Sounds like a wonderful time, and to see old and dear friends, is there anything better? The sunrise looked spectacular. What a way to start the journey back.

    That song! It is on my all-time favorites list! The video was adorable, too. She really expressed the song so well with her dancing.

  2. Aw, sounded like the perfect wedding celebration and so happy you got to be a part of it for your dear friend. Oh and that dessert room definitely sounded heavenly to me, too ❤️

  3. I really enjoyed reading all about your entire wedding experience Tamara, and that special moment back on the dance floor again with three your best buds! “What Is Life” is one of my favorite George Harrison songs.🎵 His landmark “All Thigs Must Pass” album was a hard one to find when it first hit the record stores because it sold out very quickly.

  4. Aw, you guys look like you had fun and Sawyer looks adorable all dressed up! Bummer about Cassidy having to be in the hotel without air – I know what that’s like. Glad you made it to the play too!

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