The Day After

I hate the day after.

The day after my girlfriend leaves. It means another wonderful visit has come and gone, and spells a return to a normal routine that no longer feels “normal” or “routine.” The realization that she was here less than twenty-four hours ago is hard to bear; it’s all still fresh, and often I’ll find myself thinking, yesterday at this time we were…{fill in the blank with whatever we were doing, and it doesn’t really matter what we were doing, the simple fact that we were together is enough}, my mind remembering every minute detail, my heart aching with the pain of separation.

I’m sentimental to a fault sometimes.

And I know, in the grand scheme of things, this is nothing. She keeps calling the past eight days her last visit here, for now the focus has turned to searching for a job. Once she finds one, she will move here, and we can begin a life together. She is optimistic it won’t take long, and lord knows she’s far less pickier than I am when it comes to work (this is a compliment). Still, every moment we’re apart stings a little now. It doesn’t help that we’re both impatient, or that there is no firm date for the next time we see each other, a first since we began dating back in September. There’s always been some concrete event to look forward to, and the countdown app on my phone has never before been void of days to tick down toward. I think it makes this time apart the roughest yet, and believe me, no goodbye has ever been easy. We’ve talked about meeting in Boise for a couple of days sometime between now and That Future Then When She’s Here For Good. We’ll see how everything goes.

And yet, I remain happier than I’ve been in years. The pain of separation speaks volumes about the depth of that joy. Soon, I tell myself. Very soon these goodbyes will be nothing but a memory. There will be no day after to contend with.

It’s all good in the hood, as they say. Or maybe nobody actually says that, but they should. It’s clever and it rhymes.



The Days During were pretty stinkin’ good, as always. Hanging out with the kids last weekend was a blast; Tara and Audrey bonded on Sunday, shopping together and even getting manicures. I was impressed, as The Daughter has never been much of a girly girl (which explains the black nail polish, but I thought that was cool and loved the fact that Tara would go out of her way to do something special with Audrey). After dropping the kids off Sunday night, we got all gussied up and hit the town for a belated Valentine’s Day dinner at Jake’s Famous Crawfish, Portland’s oldest restaurant (dating back to 1892), and I introduced her to the wonder and joy that is Powell’s Books. The baked salmon stuffed with crab, shrimp and brie, and the seafood fettucine were excellent. These came from Jake’s, not Powell’s, in case you were wondering and the word “books” didn’t tip you off. Monday we relaxed around the house, partaking in the grilled cheese experiment and watching movies, before making a fantastic dinner of steaks, sauteed mushrooms, garlic bread, artichokes dipped in mayo (never had this before but man alive am I hooked), and margaritas. Since we’re both foodies, one thing we do enjoy together is the art of good eating! Tuesday, we were on the interstate by 9 AM, destination: The Emerald City. Seattle, not Oz (because somebody forgot to pack their ruby slippers this time around). We arrived shortly after noon, made a quick stop to say hi to her brother Eric, and then killed a couple of hours at Pike Place Market. I love it there! Picture acres of fresh produce and just-caught seafood, fish flying through the air, hot doughnuts fresh from the fryer, quirky shops, and a big brass pig. It’s such a cool place, and I hadn’t been in a few years. When we came up for the City Arts Festival in October we discovered a little hole in the wall Chinese restaurant called Genghis Khan, which served the most fantastic orange beef we’d ever had, so a return visit was in order, and since it was lunchtime, our timing was perfect. The beef (and sweet ‘n sour prawns) were every bit as good as we’d remembered. By mid-afternoon it was time to meet up with Tara’s mom, Tracy, in Bothell, so we left the market and parked the car at the park and ride station in Bothell, down the street from her home. She sort of surprised us by suddenly appearing in front of the car while we were in the middle of a rather intense make-out session…oopsie. Not quite in flagrante delicto, but let’s just say if the windows weren’t steamed up, they should’a been. I cooked us fried chicken that night, and Tracy made mashed potatoes and country gravy. Yummy stuff. Wednesday we mostly hung around the house; Tara and Tracy were throwing a baby shower for Eric’s girlfriend, Anne, that evening; when they left, Tracy’s boyfriend David and I kicked it at home and decided to watch a couple of movies. I’d never seen Gone With The Wind before and he urged me to check it out, so I did – and naturally, was quite impressed. It’s not considered a classic for nothin’, after all. We put on Urban Cowboy next, a different sort of classic film…if you’re fond of John Travolta, anyway. Which I am. So that was a nice and relaxing day. Thursday, Tara and I went out to breakfast and then – on a whim – decided to drive across Stevens Pass to Leavenworth, a quaint Bavarian village on the other side of the Cascades. I’d always wanted to go, and had no idea it was a mere 100 miles from Bothell. We had a fantastic time there, strolling hand-in-hand through town and stopping in at various shops – an olive oil and vinegar place, a hippie joint (pun intended), a Christmas store, an antique place, a taffy shop – and naturally, had to buy a big ol’ soft and warm German pretzel to share on our way back. That evening Tracy made a pork roast with garlic mashed potatoes, and Eric and Anne came over for dinner and Wii bowling. I was promised a lemon if I made a beer run with Eric, and eagerly took Tara up on that offer. (Inside joke. Very funny. Trust me). We then played cards before heading to bed. Friday we said our goodbyes and made the trek back home; we had my parents over for dinner, and Tara was sweet enough to cook for them, whipping up her chicken broccoli braid. It was a night of good conversation, the wine was flowing, and Frank Sinatra crooned to us over the iPod. Saturday sucked. But only because of that trip to the airport at 3:30. Before that, the day was just fine and dandy! So, all in all, an excellent visit.

It just makes me that much more eager to have her around all the time. It’s going to be amazing.

Our belated V-Day dinner.
The Chef’s Special that night: baked salmon stuffed with shrimp, crab and brie. It was heavenly.
Because I’m a romantic bastard, remember?
The iconic sign at Pike Place Market.
Pike Place: It’s like an indoor farmer’s market on steroids.
A plate full of orange awesome and sweet ‘n sour delicious!
View from near the summit – Stevens Pass, WA.
My sneaky girlfriend hiding a snowball, which was subsequently launched in my direction.
Leavenworth, WA.
Even the Starbucks in Leavenworth looks like it’s in the middle of Germany.

Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

17 thoughts on “The Day After

  1. SO GLAD you had an amazing time with Tara. I love how happy you are!

    Those pictures are gorgeous – it really makes me miss the PNW. And a Farmer’s Market on steroids is a pretty good way to describe Pike’s Place Market! I really want to take the boyfriend out there to show him Seattle. I’ve been dying to get back out there for awhile.


      1. LOL. Congrats, Sarah! You win…bragging rights. 🙂

        I’m really glad I have an excuse to get up to Seattle now. Living so close you’d think I’d be up there all the time, but before October it had been 3.5 years since my last visit. I still feel like there’s a ton of fun stuff to do up there, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. Considering that Tara will be an aunt in a little over a month, I foresee many more trips north in the future.


  2. Wow…the first part had me in tears, because, well, I’m a blubbering idiot who has a real soft heart and I have felt the same pain and the same “just yesterday we were…” type moments. They suck!! I’ll be happy when Tara is finally up here. You’ll both be happier than I but I’ll still be happy!

    Thanks for revisiting the visit. It felt like I was there! LOL

    Now…how about them lemons??


    1. I’m a citrus fanatic!! So is your daughter…in a different way. Err, umm, yeah! 😉

      Thank you for the wonderful hospitality, Tracy. The roof over our heads. The food on our plates. The flannel sheets that came back with me. I can’t wait until our next visit!


    1. When we first decided to date long-distance, I thought months would pass between our visits. Considering the longest stretch has been 38 days, I’m quite impressed with how often we’ve managed to see each other, too. It’s been a saving grace, no doubt!


  3. Aw….it was so touching reading this post, Mark!

    Sounds like you and Tara had an AMAZING time together. LOVE the first photo of the two of you together. And I really love the little romantic heart on your plate – how cute.

    And holy cow…I cannot believe the amount of snow they had in WA.! Lucky them! And what a picturesque little town that looks like. It totally reminds me of something you would see in the Swiss Alps! Love those misty clouds.

    Thanks so much for sharing, buddy. Enjoyed!


    1. I didn’t post a pic of the road across the summit – the snow was piled at least 6-7′ high on each side! It was incredible, especially to somebody who loves snow so much. (Hint – that would be me. But you knew that already, Ron).


  4. Another excellent post, dear. I love that I can come back anytime (and I will…over and over again) and re-live our wonderful times together. I’m trying not to dwell on how badly I miss you, but instead am getting excited at how much closer we are to living together.

    Thank you for being so wonderful and patient and my perfect match. 🙂


    1. That’s exactly why I’ll always write every detail about our visits together, baby. (Well, almost every detail). I don’t ever want to forget how wonderful and amazing it all was.

      Of course, it’ll always be wonderful and amazing, no matter where we are or what we are doing. 🙂


  5. Gosh, Mark, I know this feeling. When Sara and I got together, she was having to travel back and forth to Asia for a month or two at a time. It was agonizing, actually.

    I have to say, however, that your reflection on this is delightful–you are dear–and Tara is one lucky woman!



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