Me at 25, wearing the lei I made myself for free at a nearby mall. Duke's statue, Waikiki Beach.
The first time I went to Hawaii was July 2001. I returned from a 2 week business trip in Osaka, Japan, and spent almost a week on my very first ever by-myself vacation, which just so happened to be in Waikiki. It was on the way back from Japan, so why not? I spent the first day in Waikiki sleeping off the jet lag and doing laundry, subsequently went to Don Ho's show, had my picture taken with him (he offered to kiss me, I declined), went to some Hawaiian tourist shops like Hilo Hattie's and the like. Spent a morning on Waikiki beach (with hundreds of people). Made a free lei in a shopping center. Took free hula lessons at the same shopping center. Had my picture taken next to Duke's statue. Went to Pearl Harbor and felt sad, discovered the North Shore (and a beach with 3 people) after somehow missing the exit for the Dole Pineapple Plantation.
Don Ho, RIP.
Me with hunky luau guy. He harvested coconuts from the tree and we all watched. When he came down, everyone started to scatter. I asked if I could get a picture.
One of my favorite memories was about four days into the trip, I'm on a bus headed to a luau on the western side of the island. It's rush hour traffic heading out of Honolulu. Bumper to bumper, stop and go. Typical commuter stuff. Only it's Hawaii, not the NJ Turnpike. Paradise, not Parkway. I'm from New Jersey. New Yorkers, New Jerseyans, we're stereotypically aggressive. We want everything done yesterday. We're impatient. We're looking out for number one. So the luau is about to start and we're still sitting on a bus close to that time. By this point in my vacay I was mellowing out. Starting to feel the aloha spirit. The "hang loose" attitude. We're all cousins. So some guy who I pegged as a New Yorker yells out to our tour guide, "What's going on? It's almost 6pm. What about the luau? What about the food?" or something like that and the tour guide says, "Hang loose. We'll get there. You'll eat." I love that and I still do to this day, almost 10 years later.
Making a lei bracelet at the luau.
After the devastation in Japan Friday morning, I was worried about Hawaii and the tsunami threat. I love Hawaii. I've been privileged enough to visit 5 times, once on my own, four times with Pete. I've been to four islands. It holds a special place in my heart. I tear up thinking about pleasant memories of Hawaii. So I was grateful to MushyWear for posting Friday on her blog that she, her family, and Maui were safe.
I googled over the weekend to find out what was going on with the other islands. I heard that Kona was hit with the tsunami. Not Japan hard, but hard enough. I found a news report of a three story house just knocked off its foundation and swept into the bay. The person who lives next door, his house was destroyed, all broken up in pieces. Watch his story here. It's incredible. He had started chemo for leukemia the day the tsunami hit. He said he had to call his neighbor who was in California and tell her, it's her house out in the bay. His family rescued the donkey after the tsunami. But he really had that aloha spirit. He said he felt lucky to have lived in that house on the bay that he loved for so long. He wasn't bitter or angry, just seemed a bit sad but accepting. He had that Hawaiian "hang loose, everything will be ok" attitude.
I have a lot to learn from Gordon Leslie about how to handle my health issues.
Sunset at Waikiki Beach, July 2001.
Good night. Be well.