Continued from Episode One, Episode Two, Episode Three, Episode Four, and Episode Five! Whopping.
Previously: Giddy airport meeting leads to motion-sickness monorail leads to the Hamptons (somehow!?) leads to the magic of western Mass leads to fireworks (literally and figuratively) in Maine.
Tom and Marcey greeted us at the door of the Prodigal Inn. I don't have other experience with this, but I imagine that if you were to fall in love over email and phone and then meet your beloved in New York City and then get lost in the Hamptons and then sleep and eat your way through western Mass and then drive into a fireworks-laden Maine night, Tom and Marcey are exactly who you should want and expect to greet you at the door of your bed & breakfast. They were welcoming and pleasant and mystical, but we didn't talk much that first night. It was already around 8 or 9 pm and we were hungry and seeking dinner. First we checked into our guest room. It was called The Audra. And I swear if this current baby was a girl, that would be high on our list of girl names. We went out and found a restaurant that was closing so they called ahead and sent us to a local bar that was still open. When we arrived, the hostess said, "Oh! You're the young couple we've been expecting." I nudged Cassidy and smiled because our age gap of eight years seemed larger then, but we definitely didn't look eight years apart. A live band was playing Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Pride and Joy" and people were dancing. Cassidy was having the time of his life, singing loudly, and I always assumed he loved that song. Very recently he told me that he didn't have any special feelings for it - he was just in the moment then.
When we got back to the Inn, Marcey had left cake out for us. I devoured it. We sank into an amazing bed and I was very tired but I remember waking up in the middle of the night and looking out the window onto the lawn for moose. I still do that in my own house, even though there aren't many moose in western Mass. There are many moose in Maine.
The next morning was almost harsh in its brightness. We sat down for breakfast with Tom and Marcey and told them our story. They were shocked that we had just met a few days earlier. They told us their own story of finding each other despite desperately horrible times and how they fell madly in love and moved to Maine together where they built a business. Tom realized suddenly and later in life that he was an AMAZING sculptor. It's all here if you want to read yet another beautiful story that I couldn't possibly tell. All I can tell you is that both Cassidy and I thought Tom might be...Jesus. And he laughed when we told him so. We were the only guests eating breakfast at that time and I will never forget the instrumental music from the film, Titanic playing softly in the background. It is still locked in my mind. That morning as we all told our various stories, I was dizzyingly crazy about Cassidy. He just has a tendency to glow and I was really seeing it that morning. It was a key moment in my falling. After breakfast, we toured Tom's studio and got directions and information about where to go during the day and where to find moose at dusk. We got lunch at a roadside gas station/restaurant and Cassidy gave my car an oil change. Seriously. Somehow. I needed one, I guess.
We then went to a watering hole in the woods where Cassidy climbed up and dove into the water from high rocks. I took pictures of him mid-air and shirtless, diving straight down in just his jeans. He was fearless. I wasn't and sat aside on a cliff, watching and photographing.
We were ravenous after that and found a restaurant called "Mooses' Tale Food & Ale" along the road. When we first walked in, the radio was playing Phish's "Bouncing Around The Room" and we were both giddy at the Radio Gods for playing a Phish song. I went to use the restroom and when I came out, I find Cassidy kneeling down in the back of the restaurant. He called me over and said, "This is Tucker. He's a floppy-eared Doberman." Which, if you remember, I never had known existed until he had told me. Floored again, we sat down in a daze and ordered pizza and ravioli (of course) from our awesome waitress, Erin. "Walk On" by U2 then came on, which was a song I loved and wanted to hear. Then Pearl Jam's "Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town" which I had just been telling him was a song that made me think of him all the time:
"I seem to recognize your face
Haunting, familiar, yet I can't seem to place it
Cannot find the candle of thought to light your name
Lifetimes are catching up with me
All these changes taking place, I wish I'd seen the place
But no one's ever taken me..
..My god it's been so long, never dreamed you'd return
But now here you are, and here I am"
Shaking our heads, we wrote Erin a note on our receipt before we left and I still have the customer copy in which she wrote us a note back. The restaurant with its song magic and Floppy-eared Doberman definitely propelled us to our next desination - staying along a stretch of road that Tom and Marcey had just said that moose were seen earlier that day. The road was filled with caves to explore, state parks, and moosey, marshy trails. At the first place we stopped, which I believe was filled with bridges, water and large stones, I took one of my favorite photos of Cassidy ever:
Then we climbed through caves and drove my poor battered Honda Civic onto rocky, muddy back roads. The sun was fading, but we were having way too much fun to notice. We kept finding barely passable roads, and of course, we'd drive through them to see if we could find those elusive moose. The whole endeavor took hours. We were told to expect moose at nightfall but we weren't seeing any. We'd see other people doing the same thing as us but they'd shake their heads and say they hadn't seen anything. When it was just about too dark to continue, Cassidy suddenly slammed on the brakes and screeched into reverse. He had seen something and stopped the car. We both ran out of the car and through a clearing and there she was - our first moose. I have since seen 100s of moose, but seriously, there is nothing like your first. It's like entering an exclusive club you've been dying to get into since childhood.
Back in the car, I was enamored and exhausted and completely dazed. We didn't speak much. I was flabbergasted by the moose, and probably everything else. We got back to the Inn, where Marcey had once again left out cake for us. We took our cake into the library and read books on National Parks. We talked about the places we'd go together. He eventually fell asleep on the couch in the library and I just stared at him, wanting to say and do so many things. Some of those things were tender. Some were dirty thoughts. Mostly I wanted to say, "Thank you." I had never felt more alive in my life with the fears I fought to meet him and love him, and with the excitement of fulfilling life dreams. It was BIG. Too big.
The next morning after another sleepy, glowy Titanic themed breakfast, we were due to check out. Marcey said we could stay around as long as we wanted. It was July 5th and Cassidy's return flight was early morning July 6th, back at JFK. We mostly stayed in bed all day, reluctant to leave for various reasons. Real life awaited us back home, but I think parts of us thought we could just stay at that Inn forever and get married there. It's frightening how much living had to happen first.
Saying goodbye to our now forever friends, Tom and Marcey, wasn't easy. Marcey gave us some beautiful recipes and we took turns writing in their Inn's guest book. This is what we wrote:
"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"
We had a farewell to Bethel dinner at a nice restaurant in town. It was lit by moose lamps. I'm pretty sure I had ravioli or tortellini. For a change. When we got on the road, it was late in the day. After hitting the New Hampshire border, we both saw a black bear hanging out by the road. We considered it to be another sign of approval for us. Then we went back through the White Mountains and I liked the fact that Cassidy wore glasses when driving. I called him "Hot Teacher" and kept referencing "Don't Stand So Close To Me." For years, really. He let me try them on and I was astounded at how I could see every blade of grass. I got my own driving glasses soon after. Along the many pitch black and curving roads of New England, along with the depression that we were headed towards JFK Airport (ick) and a very uncertain future, I started getting overwhelmed and sleepy. Before I fell asleep for hours, I put on U2's "Achtung Baby" album. That was the soundtrack of my half asleep state and his concentrated driving back to NYC. It is still important to us today to hear those songs..
I woke up to JFK Airport, sometime in the middle of the night. Saying goodbye is not even something I remember clearly. It involved a lot of hugs, some tears, some photos, some "WTF" questions aimed up at the sky. We had both basically pulled all-nighters. I was a wreck. As I walked away from him and from this trip, he pulled me back with a question:
"What are we going to do?"
All I could do was shrug sadly and walk to my car. The drive home was filled with weirdness. As I got to that horrible Goethals Bridge/Verrazano Bridge area, I realized too late that I had no cash on me and no EZPass. I was so incredibly out of it that I tried to drive through a gated EZPass lane. I stopped short and backed out of that lane (incredibly illegal) and was instantly pulled over by a cop. I had illegally backed up, I had no money to pay the toll, my registration wasn't current (!!) and I couldn't even find my proof of insurance. Seriously could have spent a night in jail. Two cops were there, a male and female, the female yelling at me and running off to write me what she said were "multiple tickets!" I sat calmly and waited. The male cop came back to me with just a simple question. "Why are you so nice?" I stuttered out a response, "Uh..nice? My mom, I guess." He told me I could go home and kiss my mom because my niceness just got me out of EVERY SINGLE TICKET. He let me go without even paying, with all that I did illegally. Again, fortune had smiled upon me. I felt charmed.
I got back home and wrote an email with the subject "Blue Morning" to Cassidy:
"Yes, I'm still up. I drove aimlessly for a bit..wandering through the
five boros (boroughs?) of NY for awhile. Guess I always wanted to do
that - drive around NYC at 5am..just you never think it'll happen until
it does. Life is funny like that.
The radio gods pretty much kicked the living hell out of me - as if
there was anything left to kick down. I couldn't believe all that I
heard. At one point, I finally cried. A lot. I was afraid I'd hurl or
faint, but that's just not my way, as you know. But I couldn't not cry -
for all the whirlwind emotions of the last few months, the magic, the
falling for you, the ups and downs, the fear, and finally - the weekend,
more magical than I could have imagined. At about 4:30 am, I left my mom
a rambling voicemail that I was back in NJ, wanted to lay low for
awhile, and I saw so much magic that I feel too young to have seen that
much magic, that we both might come to her with stories.
A New Brunswick morning at 5am isn't such a bad thing. I was happy to be
home, if only to cling to something normal and familiar. Not sure if
that's the case. The whole world looks different to me. My room looks
different to me. I look different to me.
I was greeted by a sunrise and a fat pug following in my suitcase's
steps as I wheeled it along my apartment sidewalk. I remember magical
mornings in NB when the world just felt magical because I felt magical.
Never before have I seen the world after the magic is not just in my
head. As they say, seeing is believing.
Gonna sleep for a few hours then go about a dazed day. Wanted to thank
you for a few things:
Driving my car from New England
finding that magical inn
finding that moose - I couldn't have done it on my own. There are a lot
of things I can't do on my own, strong as I can be - I'm stronger as
part of two saving my life again and again and making it so that nothing
will ever look or feel the same again.
Talk to ya later. Give storm cloud a tackle for me."
My response came much later, because he still had to fly home for six hours:
"*hi*. your email makes me cry. and this apartment. so empty. and
like you said, nothing is the same. How did that happen? I barely
recognized my car or my home or my street or the city. The only thing
familiar to me is Stormy, who was so happy to be rescued and is now
blissfully passed out at my feet. and I mean blissfully. Once she
awakes and gives me the look I will tackle her for you. I loaded myself
up with vicodin and to save my life I could not sleep at all on that
plane. Everything and I mean everything just kept rushing through my
head and I had no choice but to sit back and throw my sweatshirt over my
head and let it all happen. and it was good. I started writing it all
down in my notebook...thoughts, ideas, moments, memories. I needed to
do that. but I was (am) delirious. so i would write until I couldn't
see straight, then put my pen down and surrender to the thoughts coming
faster than I could make my hand work. and now...now, I have no idea
what to do with myself. I am delirious, I am wired, I am...different,
too. So my plan is to walk up to the street and eat something...then
rent the Butterfly Effect which was released today, and fall asleep
during the opening credits. that's the plan anyway, but since I met you
- the word "plan" has completely dissolved from my vocabulary.
When I close my eyes, I see two things. I see the moose and the curve
of your body lying next to me. so vividly I can reach out and touch
umm...it's taken me like 25 minutes to write this. I literally am
finding myself staring off into space and I snap out of it and I have no
idea how long I was out for. I should not be allowed near the general
population write now. I wish there was a service that delivered
butterfly effects and chicken sandwiches.
I'd like to thank you for:
letting me pilot the Honda with you sleeping next to me, Phish blasting,
Vermont lightning storms. some of my favorite memories are those
the moose - no way we could have done it without each other. not in a
showing me levels of honesty that have set the bar so ridiculously high.
and makes the vulnerability so so so much easier to take.
and you know you have saved my live so many times. My level of
gratefulness will never ever decrease for that alone.
I miss you a lot. but you are completely inside me, which makes it
And so we re-entered our lives and I actually went to work that same day. And it was sad, so sad, but also wonderful, so wonderful.
So much had happened. And so, so much was about to happen..