Why Yes, I HAVE Tried Geoduck!

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!

“Surprise!”

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!

Feeling Clammy

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.

Just…Ouch

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.

Welcome to Aberdeen, Kurt’s hometown. Can you tell?
Kurt Cobain’s childhood home in Aberdeen.
Riverfront Park – Aberdeen, WA
Tribute to Kurt Cobain – Riverfront Park, Aberdeen
The bridge where Kurt used to hang out. Located on the muddy banks of the Wishkah in Aberdeen, it was the inspiration for Nirvana’s song “Something In The Way.”
Young Street Bridge graffiti.
One of many tributes to Kurt underneath the bridge.
Nirvana exhibit at the EMP.
One of Kurt’s touring suitcases from Nirvana’s early days, when they called themselves Pen Cap Chew
Nirvana’s original demo tape.
“Form” letter to Nirvana’s fans. A great example of Kurt’s sense of humor.
Winged angel from the In Utero tour, 1993.
Kurt’s house on Lake Washington Blvd. He lived here…and, sadly, died here.
Oh, yeah – Built To Spill!!
Built To Spill, rocking the Moore Theater during City Arts Fest.
Doug Martsch of Built To Spill. Love how close we were!
Built To Spill has a unique guitar sound that requires a lot of fancy footwork. Literally.
But have you tried geoduck? Well, I have!
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34 thoughts on “Why Yes, I HAVE Tried Geoduck!

  1. I love it that Tara surprised you. That is too perfect. Sara did that to me after our first extended separation, so I know how fun it can be. Hang in there for another few weeks, and you’ll be good to go. We missed you around the blogosphere, my friend. Welcome back.
    Kathy

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    1. Her surprise gave us 5 extra hours together, and believe me, we made every one of them count. I love that she did it…talk about romantic.

      I’ve missed the blogosphere too, Kathy! I’ll make the rounds and get myself caught up on Monday.

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  2. *Sniff*

    I cried on the phone with Tara and now I’m crying with you here. I love that you and Tara love each other and I can honestly feel your pain at having to be apart.

    Huge hugs Mark…and even that just doesn’t quite seem good enough!

    *Sniff*

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    1. It helps, Tracy. As did your e-mail. Thank you so much again for everything. Before you know it she and I will be back up there and you’ll be whipping out that blowtorch for your creme brulee. When I say I can’t wait, boy do I mean that…

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  3. Jonna and I understand about you two love birds wanting to get it on so no offense taken. Also I hope that Tara and I can work together again to plan some more surprises so I can always keep you second guessing me when I ask “Hey, want to go do something?” Hehehehe

    Also, I cried vicariously as I read through your pain and temporary loss as I know what it’s like to have to say good bye… even if its only for a short period of time. We can’t wait to see her again and we’re all behind you two coming up here so there won’t be any need for goodbyes any more. :-)

    …. So Mark…. Don’t forget we need to have lunch again at that cool sandwich place…

    *wink*

    Your friend,
    Steven W.

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    1. Yes, you guys were really good about not staying. Then again, the way she and I were hanging all over each other, you wouldn’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out we were just a little bit anxious for some alone time!

      Bunk Sandwiches…yes, definitely. Maybe later this week?

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  4. We’re in sync again. Here I am on the other side of the country also entering into a wonderful, but sadly long-distance, romance of my own. But we can do this! Yes we can! And I must try Geoduck some day.

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      1. Not many details posted… no time… just a pic and a couple of lines :) Most of the updates are on Facebook….

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      2. Well, get on it already! Inquiring minds want to know, lol! I was a little preoccupied to do much Facebooking the past several days. I’ll hunt down the information, though.

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  5. “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.”

    *jumping up and down*

    OMG….how WONDERFUL was that????

    I bet you were both shocked and incredibly happy!!!

    ” If you’ve never had a “real” scone – and I, apparently, had not – you are missing out. They were delicious!”

    Yes, I have had a ‘real’ scone before and I agree…..DELICIOUS! I love them with lemon curd.

    “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.”

    I got choked just reading that!

    So glad to hear all went faaaaaabulous during your time together. I was thinking about you two last week, and hoping your were enjoying yourselves.

    Thanks for sharing, buddy!

    P.S. GREAT photos!

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    1. How wonderful was it? Too wonderful for words (though I tried, anyway)! Tara says she’ll never forget the look on my face, but I’ll never forget the look on hers. She was so happy to see me it melted my heart. :)

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  6. I really enjoyed your blog Mark. Congratulations to you and Tara! Thanks for sharing with us your weekend. Hopefully Tara will be living there permanently very soon. Long distance relationships work but the goodbyes are very painful.
    On another note I finished your book this weekend “No Time for Kings”. What a gifted writer you are, it was a very entertaining and enjoyable book to read. I read it faster than others that were the same length because it was so interesting and hard to put down. Enjoyed the plot line, the characters and loved the ending! Can hardly wait till your next book comes out.
    All the best
    Theresa

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  7. Thanks for sharing your weekend with us Mark. I feel like I went through it with you guys…even the parts I’m not supposed to be around for! Woooo!

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  8. There’s nothing like distant love! For some reason that doesn’t sound quite right does it? It’s seems like an oxymoron! I could try to rephrase it but the truth is; it’s perfect! Distant love is a perfect way to start a relationship. Well, at least it was in our case.

    Over the past while, I have noticed a reoccurring theme. The things we normally think of; what we deem normal, phrases like; there’s nothing like the ‘closeness’ of love or the ‘intimacy’ of love, both perceived as normal. Yet a term like ‘distant love’ raises a hairy eyebrow? Why are parallels considered uncontrived but contrasts…weird?

    The answer in my mind is simple. If we really think about, if we ponder everything in the world, isn’t there a theme of contrast? Take, night and day for instance or good and evil. How about love and hate, or in this case; division and unity– ‘distant love’. Without contrast how can we appreciate the ‘good’ in each? Isn’t that the way God has orchestrated everything in His creation? That is precisely why contrasts are considered a perversion.

    Thus, I say again. There’s nothing like distant love. =) Distance in a love relationship, grows appreciation. What you and Tara are experiencing is strikingly similar to me and Pat. We fell in love in January 1991. Not only were we much like you in the way that you are carrying on across the miles, I was also sleepless in Seattle (the only difference being, I am the female in the show).

    We lived ‘distant love’! At first it was between Washington and Oklahoma but it migrated. I guess you could say I was moved by the relationship! It carried on between Salt Lake City and the Sooner State. If only the name (Sooner State) was intended to comfort Pat. Unfortunately, it had something to do with a football team.

    Pat and I talked often, sometimes until wee hours in the morning, long before unlimited long-distance It wasn’t until later I joined him. As a matter of fact, it took him coming to Utah on three different occasions to pick me up before I was convinced He was the man God had for me, another unfortunate circumstance, or was it?

    Well, as you know, the closeness of love eventually happened, I moved to Oklahoma and we married on November 7th 1991. Our vows were nothing special, unless you consider reciting them in group session before a judge special. And interestingly, our separation didn’t cease upon our life long pledge to one another. His job in the Air Force took him away every other month for a month at a time. But somehow the time slots got skewed just enough for him to be in Saudi Arabia on our first Christmas and Turkey on our second. And when we had our ‘real’ wedding planned for October 17, 1992 even still it was questionable as to whether he would make it home!

    Now looking back over the twenty years, although it was pure torture being separated, we held on to the reality of what we had – each other. We both agreed that living apart was far better than not having each other at all. Although we were forced to live ‘distant love’ it didn’t hurt our intimacy. As a matter of fact it made it more intense! Much like the two of you, we were deeply in love and it was only a matter of time, we knew that.

    If I could say anything to encourage the two of you, to comfort you, it would be this; “I don’t regret the ‘distant love’ we shared because just like everything in God’s creation there is a purpose.” It was the distance in our love relationship, the relentless contrast between being united and divided which built our marriage on a foundation of great strength.

    So take pleasure my new friend. The enemy of this world only perverts the things of God which are threatening. Thus, the reason contrasting ideals are considered oxymorons. He knows contrast points him out. The dividing line uncovers His disguise!

    It is the contrast between light vs. darkness, good vs. evil, love vs. hate and unity vs. separation which grows our appreciation of God’s goodness. And based on what Tracy has told me, whether you realize it yet or not, God has a profound purpose for what is happening with your heart. You and Tara are a match made in heaven. We know this because we’ve been praying for you two; you, before we even knew who you were and Tara, all the while because we love her so much. The distant love you are experiencing is building a strong foundation of love!

    God bless you both!

    Angie

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  9. Thank you for such a well thought out comment, Angie! It’s comforting to know that somebody else has been in a similar situation as ours, and everything worked out wonderfully. “We both agreed that living apart was far better than not having each other at all” sums it up perfectly. It’s agony and torture…but at the same time, I can’t imagine not having such a special person in my life. 840 miles apart beats the alternative any day. And knowing that we are working toward a bigger goal makes it all easier to swallow, too.

    I am a big believer in Fate and am confident there are other forces at work here in this relationship. I’m glad to be part of the family and look forward to meeting you someday!

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  10. Awwwwwww. I’m so happy for you and Tara, and I feel for you both and know the pain of having to leave the one you love when living in different states. You know, the plus side is the conversations you get to have. That’s the glue that holds you two together because for a month or more it’s all you have until you can see each other again. I’m glad you two had a great time, and that you got to meet Tracy, AND eat geoduck! That’s awesome!

    Plus, Joe and I went to Experience Music Project when we visited Seattle, so it was fun to read about a place and think “hey I’ve been there!”

    Hang tight till Tara comes again! Wishing both of you all the best! And I like your friends, what a great surprise they gave you.

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    1. No wonder our bond has become so strong, Jess – we have these crazy long (and wonderful) telephone conversations every night. I’m pretty sure it was these talks – all the getting-to-know-each-other stuff – that got the ball rolling for everything else that followed. Well, that and the fact that we have known each other so long and already genuinely liked (and crushed on) each other, too!

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  11. Awesome.

    Awesome weekend, awesome music, awesome food, awesome boyfriend, awesome post. Floating on Cloud 9, babe, and have been for days.

    17 more days!! (Yes, I’m being very optimistic!)

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