I haven’t spent too much time on airplanes. I usually feel really sick so before I even get to the airport I’ve worked myself into anxiety that makes my general discomfort even worse. The five hour plane trip to Kona was by far the best experience I’ve had flying. I think a lot of that can be attributed to having my friend, Cori, next to me keeping me distracted from what would otherwise only be tolerable if I had taken a Klonopin. I managed to sleep for some of the ride and play Angry Birds on my iPod when Cori was reading. About two-thirds into the trip, we were further placated with surprisingly strong Mai Tais.
I was pleasantly overwhelmed immediately upon seeing land. I’ve never seen such clear water, going from dark gray to brilliant blue to light sea green spotted with dark patches of coral as we got closer to land. The earth itself shows signs of ancient heaving, black porous lava rock that lays in simmering bumps along the surface. Otherwise, much of the land was surprisingly flat; in the distance I could see hills overcast in gray.
We rented a car and drove up the hill to stay with Cori’s friend, Stephanie. Cori mentioned that this was the most suburban section of the island as I could imagine as we steadily drove up the increasingly steep road covered with homes smothered in all sorts of intriguing foliage. Stephanie’s home is beautiful, nestled at the end of the driveway and hidden a bit in a lawn overflowing with papaya trees, spider lilies, brugmansia in bloom, amongst many other plants that I couldn’t name.
Stephanie has a very welcoming positive disposition. She’s a bit older, I presume in her fifties and in amazing shape. She has the weathered smile and skin of a woman who has lived here for thirty years basking in the sun and the salt water. I was immediately at ease with her. Stephanie had to go back to work at the nursery where her and Cori met but insisted we have lunch first. She warmed up some potato salad and broccoli quiche which tasted amazing especially after the airplane food. Afterward, we acclimated for a couple hours, napping, snuggling with the dogs and I stared at all the strange new birds in the trees.
When Stephanie returned, we went to a beach we shared only with her two dogs and the lumbering sea turtles. The short trail into the beach was very nice. Covered by a canopy of unknown trees, the ground was solidified lava frozen in circular motion like mud settles when it’s poured into itself.
I’ve never been in the Pacific Ocean but since moving to the Bay Area I’ve hardly been swimming at all and I really needed it. I managed to get past my initial fear of all the possible predators and swam around letting the currents pull at me. I enjoyed the strange force of the waves; near the surface of the water they pushed you towards the beach but a bit deeper the current felt as though it was sucking you out to sea. It pushed along my spine and at the same time pulled along my belly. Quite a cleansing experience.
The sky was pleasantly gray and quiet and the water felt clean and invigorating. As Stephanie and Corri caught up after our swim, I played in the coarse black sand, covering my feet and rubbing my legs with it while the salt water started to dry out my skin. Drake, the larger of the two dogs, was quite amusing chasing after sand crabs.
When we returned to Stephanie’s, we jumped in the hot tub, drank red wine and watched the smears of bright orange and pink in the sky as the sun set. I was feeling very pleasantly at home my first night in Hawaii with the moist fresh air soaking into my skin, the foliage and the plethora of vocal birds, the beautiful cool water, the loving company, and the sound of crickets and the downpour of rain as we slept. I nearly jumped out of bed when I heard the rain start. It hasn’t rained in the Bay Area for nearly three months and when it does, it’s hardly an event. I’ve desperately missed warm torrential storms.
I didn’t sleep particularly well despite the comfort I felt. But I woke up to a chorus of birds and crisp air followed by a good cup of local coffee and my first taste of fresh papaya. It was a very nice start to such a memorable personal anniversary. Today is the one year anniversary of the most definitive moment of my life, the day I drove out of Vermont and began defining myself based on what I have accomplished and done rather than what has happened to me. This year has not been so much a full circle but a spiraling upward into myself and looking back over it, I feel pretty content with what I have achieved.