Customs, Vows & the Raw Oyster Incident | TheNavagePatch.com

Customs, Vows & the Raw Oyster Incident

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Handan landed in America just a few days before our wedding on July 10, 2010. She flew into JFK, and I was there at the customs egress to meet her. I arrived early that day and paced, slouched and read through the interminable 90 minutes that separated me from my bride-to-be. When the hanging monitor at last flashed Handan’s arrival, I stepped up to the barricade and waited for her to walk out of customs and into my arms (unlike Sharia Doha, I’d be able to hug and kiss my fiancée without fear of arrest and deportation). The minutes ticked by, but I didn’t expect to see her right away – debarkation and customs can take quite a while. Soon enough, I started hearing bits of Turkish from the passengers walking out of customs, so I knew it wouldn’t be long. With a smile on my lips and a song in my heart, I waited. And then I waited some more. And then some more waiting. The Turks tapered to a trickle and new languages filled my ears, as passengers from Singapore and Stuttgart left the airport. This was Doha déjà vu all over again!

And just like in Doha, Handan had been detained by Johnny Law, only this time it was Johnny Scowlyjowls and his side-kick, Sally Searchyfingers. Yep, Handan was the lucky winner of a fabulous extended stay at the Customs Metal Slab Table. Her bags were emptied and their contents rifled carefully inspected by indifferent government thugs courteous and attentive agents who then thoughtfully left all of her possessions strewn about the table. So what, you ask? What’s the big deal? All she had to do was re-pack her bags and be on her way! Well, here’s the thing: Handan packs a bag like no other. A typical suitcase may take anywhere from 1-4 hours for her to pack, depending on how many times she starts over. When she is finished packing a suitcase, it is scientifically impossible for a single additional atom of matter to be placed into that bag. Were you to try, the bag would very likely implode and would quite possibly form a black hole. Then you’d be screwed. Nobody needs a black hole sucking up family members when everyone is gearing up for vacation.

Anyway, there was poor Handan, standing over her 50 lbs of stuff that needed to be re-packed in her 40 lb bag. With a muttered curse, she got to work. The minutes drained from the day as panic filled my soul out in the waiting area. Just like in Doha, all the bad thoughts ran through my head. She didn’t get on the flight. She got on the wrong flight. She’s been kidnapped. She’s been killed. She arrived but turned right around and flew back to Turkey. And so on.

To my great relief and happiness, she did finally pass through those customs doors, tired and travel-worn, but safe and sound.

Customs, Vows & the Raw Oyster Incident | TheNavagePatch.com

The next few days passed in a blur as we readied for our wedding at my parents’ house in Connecticut. Saturday arrived, we said our vows and had a barbecue. There was a small group of friends and family on hand to celebrate with us. It was a perfect day. Now, out of respect for any men reading this, I will say no more about the wedding. Who wants to read about that, amiright? Here’s one picture from that day, then we’ll move on to the honeymoon.

Customs, Vows & the Raw Oyster Incident | TheNavagePatch.com

We drove to Cape Cod for our honeymoon. I thought Handan would enjoy the ocean and the seafood. That trip was notable for a few “firsts” for Handan: first fried clam at the world famous Clam Box in Ipswich, Massachusetts.

Customs, Vows & the Raw Oyster Incident | TheNavagePatch.com

First lobster, in Provincetown.

Customs, Vows & the Raw Oyster Incident | TheNavagePatch.com

Customs, Vows & the Raw Oyster Incident | TheNavagePatch.com

And my all-time favorite, first raw oyster.

Customs, Vows & the Raw Oyster Incident | TheNavagePatch.com

What is so special about the oyster? Handan loves fish more than anything on Earth, but she is repulsed by the idea of raw fish. She has never had sushi, and until our honeymoon, she had never had raw oysters. During that trip, it was my subtle plan to try to talk her into trying a raw oyster. I figured it would be futile, but I was willing to give it a go. I ordered a dozen oysters while we were having cocktails one afternoon. The moment the bartender placed the platter in front of us, Handan reached over, grabbed a shell and started slurping away! I couldn’t’ believe it. I stared as she bolted down half of the slimy little bastards before I even had my first. Finally I asked, “Do you like them?”

“I love them.” She said.

“You know they are raw, right?” I asked.

She blanched.

“What?! Why didn’t you tell me?!” She asked.

“I didn’t get the chance! Besides, I figured you knew! But…you like them..?”

Handan was angry for a while, thinking that I had tricked her. But more galling had to be the fact that she actually enjoyed the very thing she had disparaged for decades.

And so I achieved the impossible: Handan not only ate raw fish…but she loved it.

My mission accomplished, we headed back to Connecticut to prepare for our trip to Handan’s hometown: Izmir, Turkey. But first, I had to show Handan the majestic birthplace of America: the eighth wonder of the world…Plymouth Rock! Behold the glory!

Customs, Vows & the Raw Oyster Incident | TheNavagePatch.com

Yeah, okay, so maybe it looks more like an over-sized pet rock in a cage.

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27 Comments

  1. awwww loving this story and so glad she ate oysters raw most people who can get past the slime thought do love them as i do xx

  2. What a beautiful couple you are and hope you’re as happy as you look. Your son is a very nice boy and you’ve done a great job with him. Hugs…Karen D.

    1. Thank you, Val! The story continues next week. I’ll have a brief post about our summer in Turkey, then I’ll start to tackle the year in Afghanistan. That story will take a few posts, I imagine. Thanks for reading!

      G

  3. Greg and Handan…I have loved reading your ‘story’…I’m sure you’ve heard it a thousand times before, but you two were clearly destined for each other. And I can only imagine the stories you two share with each other, “Remember that time we were in Afghanistan and …” Fantastic.
    Thanks for sharing with us. I left you a note about that beautiful turquoise inlaid table before I realized that you had posted today! My bad. But can’t wait to see what fantastic creation you share with us next.
    Have a wonderful weekend.
    Hugs, Lynn

    1. Hi Lynn, yes we’ve had amazing times, and there is still so I have more to tell! I still have several more Afghanistan tales to write, then it’s on to Vietnam and then India. Stay tuned!

  4. Love a great love story. I can repeat this over and over again on each installment, I’m a sap like that! LOL Now that I’m reading the story behind the couple I love what you do even more. What a great team. No wonder it didn’t take long to get married, you two were made for each other. The stool that Handen redid for the bedroom with the postmarks of all the places you two have been means so much more as I get to vicariously walk with you through your history!

    1. Thank you, Nikki! I’m really happy you are enjoying the story. It’s been a while, so I think I need to get another one out soon! Maybe later this week… 🙂

  5. I was thoroughly enjoying reading the above, UNTIL I saw the “majestic birthplace of America: the eighth wonder of the world…Plymouth Rock! Behold the glory!” alternative factoid!! Please bring Handan to Virginia so she can see the real launch point of our nation: Jamestown. My ancestors were here in 1607-thirteen years before those laggard prudish Pilgrims arrived.

    1. It was all tongue-in-cheek, Mary. HAve you been to Plymouth Rock? It’s just about the most unimpressive “landmark” you’ll likely see. The “rock” looks more like a glorified pebble in a cage on the beach, lol! Don’t you worry, Handan and I will be touring the southeast in the near future. It’s one of the regions of America that Handan is eager to see. I will teach her about Jamestown, The Lost Colony and the mystery of CROATOAN – a story that captivated my young mind when I first heard it at age 10.

  6. Love a great love story. I can repeat this over and over again on each installment, I’m a sap like that! LOL Now that I’m reading the story behind the couple I love what you do even more. What a great team. No wonder it didn’t take long to get married, you two were made for each other. The stool that Handen redid for the bedroom with the postmarks of all the places you two have been means so much more as I get to vicariously walk with you through your history!

  7. Dang you all to heck! Here I was, looking for how to make a bucket ‘n’ faucet light when I happened on a page promising easy fairy lights projects. Promise delivered. I then saw the invitation to read the tantalizing About Us section. Okay, I’ll bite. Next thing you know, half the day was gone that I was supposed to spend cleaning and folding laundry. How’d that happen? Your story is moving and I’ve barely started. The impression I get is of two people who are full of life and live fully. I wish I were that but I’ll live vicariously through you two if that’s okay. And not too creepy. Thank you for sharing so much (and the fairy lights projects, natch).

    1. LOL, happy to have helped waste your day, Terry! Welcome to The Navage Patch – Handan and I are so happy you’ve joined us! 🙂

  8. Greg and Handan,
    I have been enjoying your projects for a while now as a frequent visitor/occasional poster on Hometalk and I believe I’ve pinned a few on Pinterest before actually joining your “patch” here. I just wanted to say your story is so endearing and you two make such a beautiful couple. I do believe that if two people are meant to be together they will find each other no matter what and your story goes to prove that.
    I was taken aback at first when I realized your blog was written predominately by a man simply because so many of these are female dominated. I applaud you for this!! I also admire you for quitting your job, selling your belongings and going after what you want. It’s truly inspiring.
    I happen to be a civil engineer as well (except I HATE it haha). I lost my job in June and have been looking for work since. I have always been a crafter/artist/baker/dreamer and wanted to spend my time showing others how to create, but the analytical/sensible part of my brain has held me back. After reading your story I’ve decided to take that leap of faith and start my own blog or business and see where it takes me.
    Thank you for sharing your amazing story and for inspiring others to take chances! You two are great!
    Mandy

    1. Thank you so much for this comment, Mandy. It’s so nice to hear this. I read it aloud to Handan, and she gave me a big hug. Thank you again, and have a wonderful week.

  9. You need to write a book in addition to a blog. Words flow out of you like pouring honey from a jar. That’s hot honey!!

    1. Thank you so much, Diana! Maybe one of these days, but there’s just too many projects to finish to think about writing, lol! 🙂