Back in August, I shared my new catchphrase with the world. It was cool, it was hip – and it was ironic, since I had never tried geoduck. How could I be dishing out those words, I wondered, when I hadn’t even partaken (partook?) in said delicacy myself. Fortunately, I can now say I have! So, how’d it taste?
You’ll have to wait a few minutes to find out…I’ve got other stories to share!
Tara was supposed to fly into PDX Wednesday evening. Her flight was supposed to arrive at 10:55 PM. She had been telling me this for weeks. So, when I got a text from her that afternoon stating that she’d be leaving for the airport soon, I thought nothing of it. Then, when she asked me if I’d checked my mail yet, I figured she had sent me something, so I told her I’d put on my shoes and go walk out to the mailbox. I stepped outside, only to run into this smiling woman who looked exactly like my girlfriend. Only that was impossible, because it was only 6:30 and her flight wouldn’t even be departing Vegas for another couple of hours. I stopped dead in my tracks, a look of confusion blossoming across my face as I realized that not only was this girl standing before me the spitting image of Tara…she was Tara. I have never been so surprised in my entire life!
We embraced and smothered each other with kisses and hugs. 38 days apart, man…that’s hell.
Turns out she had set the whole thing up with my friends, Steven and Jonna, who did an excellent job of not only keeping the secret a secret, but of picking her up from the airport and delivering her to my doorstep. I thanked them profusely and invited them in, but was glad they didn’t stay more than a few minutes. No offense, guys, but Tara and I had some catching up to do!
After we were all caught up, we ordered pizza and watched a few sitcoms on my DVR. But mostly we couldn’t stop kissing each other.
The Theme is “Kurt”
Thursday morning we were up early. After enjoying coffee and a bite to eat, we packed the car and began our drive north about 9:45. We weren’t going straight to Seattle, though; instead, we took a two-hour detour to Aberdeen to pay homage to Kurt Cobain. We’re both huge Nirvana fans, and after my visit there five years ago, I’d always wanted to return. Tara was eager to see Kurt’s childhood home and the Young Street Bridge, a teenage hangout of Kurt’s popularized in the song “Something In The Way.”
Aberdeen is a depressed and depressing blue collar town in Gray’s Harbor County, Washington. The weather was overcast and drizzly as we pulled in front of Kurt’s former home. We then parked the car and walked to the bridge, which is now also the site of Riverfront Park, a memorial to Kurt complete with a statue and signs. The graffiti beneath the bridge – colorful tributes to the late artist – was a somber ode to this man, whose legacy lives on.
The whole trip had a Kurt theme running throughout; we also visited the Nirvana “Taking Punk To The Masses” exhibit at the EMP (Experience Music Project) in Seattle, and the home where he and Courtney Love lived (and where he killed himself) on Lake Washington Boulevard. And, of course, we listened to lots of Nirvana music.
After Aberdeen, we returned back to I-5 and proceeded north. We stopped by Tara’s brother’s house to pick up a spare key, and then headed into Bellevue so I could finally meet Tracy, Tara’s mom. She was working a late shift and we had concerts to go to, but I wanted to see her first – it would have felt weird to sleep in her guest room without meeting her. She came out of the bakery where she works to greet us, and we hugged like old friends – which, in reality, is exactly what we are – and chatted for a bit. Then Tara and I drove up to Bothell, north of Seattle, to drop off our things at her house. It was time for some rock ‘n roll!
Rockin’ Out In Seattle
We drove into Seattle Thursday evening to get our rock ‘n roll fix started. We were there for the City Arts Fest, a three-day music event, and had to pick up our wristbands first. Once they were secured around our wrists (where they would remain until Saturday night), we drove to Seattle Center for a School Of Rock laser light show. True to its name, this was a bunch of kids in bands playing grunge classics while lasers danced across the ceiling. They were, by and large, all pretty good; the only thing missing was Jack Black. After the School Of Rock show we drove to the Showbox, the venue for our next concert of the evening. We circled around the vicinity of 4th Avenue for awhile, looking for a place to park, and had an encounter with a sketchy probably-homeless guy who tried to take $10 off my hands for parking, even though he didn’t work at the lot. Fortunately, Tara was onto his game and I had to roll the window up in his face and high tail it out of there to find another lot. One thing about Seattle: there are a lot of annoying panhandlers and shady characters about. All part of the charm, I guess. We were hungry – it was after 9 PM now, and we hadn’t eaten since stopping for an early lunch – so we walked around looking for a decent restaurant. Most of them, oddly enough, were closed already, so our quest became simply finding any restaurant open. We found a Chinese hole-in-the-wall place called Genghis Khan right next to the theater, and the food (orange beef and sweet ‘n sour prawns) was quite good. Satisfied, we went next door and saw two bands perform, OK Campfire and The Long Winters. Great music + excellent company made for a terrific first full day together. We arrived back at Tracy’s place around 1 AM and crashed.
Friday morning, Tracy made us homemade scones with honey butter, which we enjoyed with hot coffee. If you’ve never had a “real” scone – and I, apparently, had not – you are missing out. They were delicious! It was great just lounging around, talking with Tracy and David, her boyfriend of many years. Tara and I were pretty beat after our late night, so we took a nap before heading to the EMP for the Nirvana exhibit. Afterwards, we drove to the Moore Theater and parked across the street. We had a couple of hours to kill before the concert lineup there, so we browsed through a used record store, stopped in a Belltown bar for drinks (I had a Maker’s Mark Manhattan and – wonder of wonders – a chocolate cake shot, a fave of Tara’s. It was pretty stinkin’ good, and by the time we left, I was a tad on the intoxicated side. Whoopsie). We then proceeded across the street to a sushi restaurant that featured on its menu…yes, you guessed it…geoduck!
We both ordered sushi for our main course, but the appetizer? It was a baked geoduck served in a cheesy mayonnaise-based sauce that included mushrooms, onions and fresh herbs. The verdict?
Absolutely delicious! It was like eating a clam…which makes sense, seeing that geoduck is a clam. An oversized, funny-looking clam, but a clam nonetheless. We both thought the geoduck was the highlight of our dinner, in fact.
And now my catchphrase ain’t ironic no mo.
We walked over to the Moore Theater afterwards, and saw a triple lineup of indie rock awesomeness: Seapony, Disco Doom, and Built To Spill. BTS is a favorite band of both of ours, so when we arrived and grabbed seats in the front row, we were pretty stoked. Deciding that the front row wasn’t close enough, we got up and leaned against the stage for Built To Spill’s 90-minute set. The music was incredible – these unassuming guys from Boise, Idaho know how to rock! We had a great time, even though my ears were ringing for the next 24 hours. Totally worth the borderline deafness.
Because of a three-encore set we were late to the next venue and weren’t allowed inside, so we headed back to Tracy’s house instead. Three words: Seattle traffic sucks. It took us thirty minutes to navigate a few blocks and (finally) reach the freeway. We didn’t get back until 1 AM again, and of course were exhausted after another full day.
Built To Chill
Saturday morning we slept in late. There were no scones awaiting us, as both Tracy and David had to work, so – ya know – no sense in getting up early! After two nights of rock ‘n roll and too many encounters with traffic and crazy people, I suggested we skip the final night’s concert and hang out at home instead. Tara was more than agreeable with this idea. We’d been on the go so much, a simpler evening sounded like just the ticket, and Tracy had promised to make us lasagna for dinner. Lasagna just happens to be my favorite dish (other than geoduck, of course). So, after breakfast at this great little cafe in Bothell, wine tasting and a tour of Domaine Ste. Michelle winery in Woodinville, and the aforementioned pilgrimage to Kurt’s mansion (still a pretty full day!), we returned home. Tara’s brother’s girlfriend (are you keeping track?) came over, and the four of us had a wonderful evening filled with lasagna, wine, cheesecake, and cards. After the card game, Tara and I excused ourselves and headed upstairs to bed. Was it early? Well, yeah…but it was also our last night together. Let’s just say everybody understood.
When I woke up this morning, I was already feeling depressed. We had waited 38 days to see each other – 38 agonizing, grueling days – and sadly, our time together flew by. Isn’t that always the case? We did have time for a nice breakfast out with her family – Tracy, David, Eric (brother), Anne (brother’s gf) – at the Original Pancake House in Bothell. And then, it was time to drive Tara to the airport. I hugged Tracy and thanked her for her hospitality. She really did pull out all the stops and made me feel right at home.
At Sea-Tac Tara and I stopped for a Bloody Mary at a bar and grill, and then came the really hard part. The saying-goodbye part. When I left Ely, we didn’t even know if we were going to pursue a relationship together, so that goodbye was hard…but uncertain. This one was about a hundred times worse, because…well…I am completely in love with Tara.
And she loves me back.
This is all just so surreal and bizarre…and pretty damn wonderful.
But, yeah…it makes for really hard goodbyes. We kissed. We hugged each other tightly. And then I turned and walked away. Couldn’t even bear to glance back – seeing her standing in line to board a plane that would whisk her away to another state was simply too difficult to deal with. And then, the 2.5-hour drive back home in an empty car was painful. I mean that literally. I shouldn’t have listened to Built To Spill the whole way back. There may have been a few teary-eyed moments and possibly a lump in my throat on occasion, but I’m admitting nothin’.
When I got home, there was a very sweet and heartfelt e-mail from Tracy, who basically told me how grateful she is that Tara and I are together, how happy I make her daughter, and how happy that makes her, as her mother. And, she welcomed me to the family. Which kind of choked me up but made me feel all sorts of wonderful. Just last night, I had told Tara that I felt like part of the family, and she replied, “You are.”
So, as sad as I am that our fantastic trip together was over in what felt like the blink of an eye, I am also floating on cloud nine because this relationship I have found myself in is so full of promise, and makes me so happy, that it’s worth a little time apart if that’s what it takes to bring Tara here permanently. And she will be…the sooner, the better.
I will see her again in 31 days, at the latest. We might try to meet halfway in Boise before that, but it’ll depend on the weather. Worst case scenario, a month. At least that’s less time apart than we had to endure before.
Can’t wait to see you again, baby.