I met Paul Cavanaugh when I was 20, and he was 18. He swept me off my feet into the life of adventure that I'd always wanted. We hitchhiked across the country in January of 1975, eventually landing in San Francisco in a radical hippie commune. We were expecting a baby, so we moved on to Santa Cruz for a more stable and down-to-earth lifestyle. When our daughter was almost a year, we traveled back across the country with a friend and, although we had just planned a visit, we stayed in Connecticut for two years before making the cross-country trip again, this time with an almost 3-year old, two friends and as many of our worldly possessions as we could pack into that black Plymouth Valiant. This time, we ended up in Husum, Washington then to Zig Zag, Oregon and finally, Portland, Oregon in time to birth our second child.
After Mt. St. Helen's erupted in 1980, we moved to the coast of Oregon in Tillamook County where we hosted a weekly Open Mic. We had met through music and, though it took a while for him to accept me as a musical equal, we performed and wrote songs together almost from the beginning and had been performing weekly at Saturday Market in Portland for the entire time we lived there. Unfortunately, the economy in Oregon was not doing well. Unemployment was the rule, and we had to make a decision. Should we stay on the west coast, which was more radical and alternative than the culture we had left, or should we go home where we would have family around? Paul had already lost his father, and his mother was not well, so family won out in the end. We packed our children, our cat and all of our things, this time into a VW bus, and started the long journey home. It was a very long trek, taking 3 weeks to make it across the country. We only stopped when we broke down and when we worked for a few days at an herb farm in Pennsylvania to try to earn enough money to make it the rest of the way. We had already pawned a guitar in Wheeling, West Virginia to get enough gas money to get us to the job that awaited us. But, that is another (very entertaining) story. We settled in upstate New York in 1982, and I still live there, though I've moved quite a bit in the area.
We had the kind of life together that many people read about in novels and wonder if any of it could be true. Much of our experiences seem unreal now that I look back, but it all happened. We struggled together and we laughed together. We fought like cats and dogs and loved just as hard. We started out as children and became adults, growing up together but also growing apart. I had many wonderful adventures with Paul, but he and I were very wounded. It's always amazed me that we survived our childhoods full of violence and degradation and our drug and alcohol crazed teens and went on to become responsible adults. Many of our early friends never made it out alive. Paul was a very angry man, always needing someone to blame for his struggles, and I was also angry and feisty. I was not willing to put with much anymore. I never stopped loving this creative, funny genius, but I could no longer live with him. After I left, we became closer friends, and I often thought that maybe that was was meant to be all along. But then, we would never have had our three wonderful children and grandchildren. And, I would never take any of it back. He taught me to survive in a harsh world. He taught me to have faith that things would work out, no matter how hopeless things might seem. He was my lover and my best friend, and I still miss him terribly.