I have many friends who live in the little box under my desk. Now and then, I’m lucky enough to meet them, face to face, sometimes decades after cementing our friendships online.
In 2016, I posted an interview by my friend Todd Kruse of artist Carl Yoshihara. Those two have taught me to appreciate abstract art, with their open, playful, and unpretentious attitudes towards all acts of creation. At that time, Carl lived in California, but recently moved back to Maui. What a fun coincidence! I asked if he might have time to meet up for lunch, and whether he had any insider tips for us tourists. He called me and gave me some great ideas and pointers. He was going to be on the mainland visiting his own family during the first two days of our visit, but that worked out perfectly and we were able to meet up for lunch mid-week, after my snorkeling adventures. By then, I was ready to get out of the sun, for my own good!
And while we enjoyed hours of conversation over good food, feral chickens, homemade pie, and coffee, I knew for a fact we were kindred spirits when we both looked over at the Shave Ice hut and simultaneously exlaimed, “Bumble!” Not two weeks earlier, I’d half-jokingly told my husband we should have attended a Christmas character brunch at the Gaylord Texan Dallas Resort in Dallas – not because I wanted my picture taken with Santa or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but because I wanted a photo and autograph with the Bumble, that super-bouncy Abominable Snowman. I’m glad I held out for this, instead.
If you’ve read Gratitude and a List, you know that some of my closest, most trusted friends are women I have yet to meet in person. When my son was 12, some of us camped together, with our kids, at Lassen Volcanic National Park. I spent a happy weekend in San Antonio with Debra, and another, years later, in Dallas, with Hadass, Ceci, and Debra.
While I was in Hawaii, I could not resist an island hop to Oahu to meet up with Vanessa. I was so excited to finally get to meet her that I flew out on the first flight, and back on the last. Fortunately, it’s easy to find the Kahului Airport in the dark, at 5:00 AM. Not so easy to find the rental car in a construction zone at 11:00 PM, but I managed! Though we had never met, Vanessa picked me up from the Honolulu airport at 7:00 AM in pouring rain.
As we drove around the island, the rain began to abate. As the sun peeked from behind the clouds, we enjoyed coffee and breakfast in a valley, near the water, beneath Oahu’s stately cliffs.
After breakfast, we continued our drive around the island. Each view was more breathtaking than the last. I used to fantasize about running away and living as a beach bum in Hawaii. I could live on pineapple and pork. I could even eat poi, if taro root was all I could find. And as Vanessa drove me around Oahu, I found the spot where – in my imagination – I would pitch my tent.
I won’t tell you exactly where that is, but I’m changing my name to Maid Marian.
I wandered a bit in the city while Vanessa attended a meeting. I enjoyed a leisurely visit to the Hawaii State Art Museum, wandered around the interior courtyard of the State Capitol, and took a stroll around ‘Iolani Palace. I said hello to the statues of Queen Lilioukalani and King Kamehameha I, and took selfies under the shade of a walking Banyan tree that seemed to go on and on and on.
Vanessa and I explored the fresh markets in Chinatown and had a delicious ramen lunch. She gifted me a beautiful lei of Hawaiian white ginger, the soft scent of which wafted around me for hours, even as the delicate blossoms began to wilt. I got so many compliments on that gorgeous lei! We ascended the Aloha Tower – a first for both of us – and enjoyed an incredible view in all directions.
Later, I’d attend 7th night Hanukkah celebrations at a synagogue in a Buddhist temple, before heading back on the last flight out to Maui. It was a happy exhaustion I felt, as I climbed into bed that last night in Maui.