Tonight as I’m writing this (and every night) the coqui frogs and cicadas are singing their songs over the distant sound of waves crashing onto the rocky cliffs below. The spiders are positioned in the center of their elaborate webs. A few stars are glinting overhead but mostly it is intensely dark. The place I’m staying has been really great. The location is incredible, nestled on the cliff, topside of Waipio Valley. There’s a big stand of bamboo providing privacy from the neighbors on one side and a large yard full of tropical plants and fruit trees on the other.
Breakfast has become one of my most important self care rituals. Maybe it’s because I spent so many years throwing down a bowl of cereal as fast as I could, but the act of preparing a real breakfast every day feels conscious and luxurious. I have some produce from the yard, left on the doorstep by my AirBnB host last night, so I enjoy a grapefruit and two bananas fresh off the tree. I only have two eggs left from the dozen I bought on Sunday night. This really is not enough eggs for me—does anyone else need five or six egg whites to make it through the morning?—but I fry them up in some butter and they are delicious.
This morning is restful. I write for a couple of hours, then prepare and eat my breakfast. I shower. I tidy up the place a little. I consider walking back down into Waipio but there isn’t enough time before I need to leave to pick up my friend, Cassidy, from the airport. I walk the two minutes to the overlook and enjoy the view again for a moment before getting into my rental car.
The rental car—that’s a story too! I caught the shuttle to the Thrifty counter and waited in the queue for about ten minutes while the agents were helping other customers. One of the agents was a sweaty, uncomfortable man that I would guess to be about 50. I observed him as he helped another customer at the counter. He had the pasted-on smile of a carnival worker but it seemed to be stretching over the part of him that might suddenly burst into flame. After he got the woman out the door and on her way to her car, he took a moment, conspicuously, as I and another man waited in the queue. He drank from his coffee mug. He walked to the storefront window. He walked back behind the counter. He took another drink. He extracted a Lysol wipe from the canister and wiped down his work station. He took another drink. Then he seemed to mentally ready himself before he called me over.
I don’t have a hearing problem but I could barely make out what he said to me. I believe he asked if I would like to upgrade to a Jeep or convertible. I asked about the price difference and then declined. He spoke some more in such a mumbled voice that I couldn’t understand what he was saying, but I gathered that he was taking about a Camaro convertible. Since I had just declined the upgrade, I assumed he was joking with me. But after another minute I thought, “Maybe he’s not….”
“Are you serious?” I asked.
“Well, I don’t have sedans out there in the lot. Unless you would like a minivan…?”
“No, no! A Camaro is fine.”
He handed me the keys, I signed the paperwork and I was off. I halfway expected to find the midsize sedan I had reserved sitting in the indicated G2 parking space, but sure enough, it was a white Camaro convertible. Another piece of evidence I can log away in the sacred column titled “The universe loves me!”
So I have been driving around in a Camaro convertible this week and, even though I feel like an obnoxious tourist in an obnoxious rental car, it’s been fun! It’s the first time I’ve driven a convertible, but I’ve always been a windows-down/music-up kind of person so it’s not surprise that it fits!
It takes about 90 minutes to get to the airport from where I’m staying. I leave a little early so I can stop in Honoka’a, a cute little town with a vintage feel. I find a little cafe where I can buy a drink and notice some jars of jam in the dessert case. I ask the woman behind the counter what it is. “Lilikoi jam. I just made it this morning.” She offers me a taste. Lilikoi is passionfruit and I can’t resist the taste or the incredible color and the fact that this woman made it this morning. There’s a fabric shop with a variety of bright Hawaiian prints. It’s filled with Japanese woman huddled together in groups presumably discussing material choices. I walk to another shop that’s packed floor to ceiling with kitschy Hawaiian souvenirs. The shopkeeper asks me to leave my drink on the counter, presumably traumatized by clumsy customers, and I take that as my cue to get on the road.
The road between Honoka’a and Kona passes through Waimea, which is a perfectly nice town where life appears to go on independent of tourism and hospitality. It has a cowboy edge to it, highlighted by a couple of shopping centers with covered boardwalk porches and a six foot cowboy boot, painted with a Hawaiian bronc rider, near the center of town. Once you pass Waimea, the road begins to fall toward the sea. This is the dry side of the island so the landscape is dominated by yellow grasses, lava rock and the blue horizon. The sun feels hotter as I follow the slope down toward the shore.
I consider the end of my seclusion as the airport nears. In some ways it is a relief to have another person with whom I can process and share experiences. Another part of me will miss these moments I’ve had with myself. I decide to trust that this will be what it needs to be, both for me and for Cassidy. She arrives in a delightful state and assures me that the car and Hawaii both suit me.
We pick up some lunch and choose a hike that is along the way back to our lodging. The hike is over a massive field of a’a lava to a salt and pepper beach. We walk down the beach, whose grains of “sand” vary in size from softball to…well…what you would normally think of as sand. The sand is a mix of tumbled lava rock and coral.
As we walk, I talk about my previous visits to this place, both with my ex-husband. That’s something I’m not sure of—why I chose to come back to a place where all of my memories are with him. I’m still not sure, except that it feels like healing. Something about doing it this time for myself and fully with my self. Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” As I talk with Cassidy a part of my untold story comes up, a part that I have pushed down for so long I forgot about it. And I see it with new eyes as it falls from my lips. Another bit of water goes down the spillway from behind the dam. Healing.
Maybe the essence of these lessons I’ve been learning for the past two or three years is how to see my self and care for my self. As Glennon Doyle says, “I have met my self and I am going to care for her fiercely.” Namaste.
i love it Michelle! Thanks for your sharing!
Thank you for reading!
I was wondering why you chose HI too, for the same reason, but it makes sense.