Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Triumphant Return to Honolulu

I started this blog after I moved to New York City, primarily as a way for all my friends and family back in Hawaii to keep track of my life without me having to--you know--write letters or talk on the phone with them.
I'm afraid of phones. And strangers, acquaintances, co-workers, and dogs. And the ocean.
Which means that this blog has never been live when I've been in Honolulu! That simply won't do! Honolulu was my first big city love. It's where I rode my first public bus, attended my first poetry slam, saw my first drunk man peeing on a dumpster. Oh, for the fish-and-bakery stink of Chinatown!! The salt-and-sewage stink of the Ala Wai Harbor! The mildewy book stink of the Hawaii State Library!

A fragrant town.
I haven't been back in the six years I've lived in New York because I was afraid if I went back, I desperately want to live there again. Like an ex you can't see again until you don't love them anymore, I just had to keep my distance.

Of course, it didn't work. I was in Honolulu last week with my mum and sister for my birthday and it was as gloriously stinkish and odd as I remembered it, right down to our funky old hotel room with the crooked toilet and the broken cold water tap that turned on no matter which way you spun it. We had a wonderful vacation. We ate in delicious restaurants, attended cultural events, toured places of interest, shopped, visited friends and family, got day-drunk, and avoided the beach. It was a great success.

And there are so many stories! Where to begin?

I took a nonstop flight from JFK to Honolulu that took 11 hours, which gave me enough time to read the in-flight magazine twice AND flip through it backwards once, just to look at the pictures. A lot of my conversations that week began with, "I read in the Hawaiian Airlines magazine that..." When I landed, I called the shuttle van that was supposed to take me to Waikiki and they told me to go to the shuttle pick-up area. I got there, saw a white shuttle van, and asked the driver if I was on his list.

"Where you going?" he asked.

"Hokele Suites on Lewers," I said.

"Get in."

Fifteen minutes later, crawling down Nimitz Highway in rush-hour traffic, my cell phone rings. I can tell from the number that it's the shuttle van I'd actually reserved, no doubt wondering where the hell I was.  The van I was in wasn't my van. I was so embarrassed that I didn't answer, even though they called more than once.

It was way too early to check into the hotel, so I dropped off my bags and went to Waikiki Beach to watch the sunset. Ooo, ahh, pretty-kine and all that. Time to drink. I went to the Irish bar on Lewers, Kelley O'Neills, and listened to some middle-aged hippie with a guitar butcher Creedance Clearwater for a couple of hours while I got drunk-texted my pen pal in New Zealand and watched some dude who looked like Rasputin eat fries.

Mum and Abby got in around nine and I met them in front of the hotel.

"I got on the wrong shuttle!" I shrieked.

"That's why our driver was so grumpy!" they shrieked back.

We're very loud together. We cleared off the balcony of the restaurant we ate at, and the manager gave us a free margarita after Mum made him show her the back staircase. The people in the room next to ours had to turn on their television a couple of times to drown us out that night.

Dang, I'm not even on our first full day of vacay yet! We'll just pop a "to be continued..." on this bad boy. Tune in next time for a description of Hawaii's first ever Fashion Week, the 35th Annual Hawaii International Film Festival, and a thrilling afternoon at the grocery store.

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