Thursday, November 28, 2013

Kona Kronicles: part1

It's after 9pm, and the German girls and I are looking for a supermarket.
We cruise past a Target, drive 'til we find the highway, and consider making a stop at Walmart before I spot a Safeway just above us. We step in, and I could be in East Van again: a Safeway is a Safeway is a Safeway. But we leave, and it has to be the tropics, what with the heat, and that smell.
Oh, I don't want to get used to that smell! It's so perfect: heat and flowers. At home it would be rain and  ocean, evergreens and city smog. The tropic scent hit my nose the minute I deplaned at Kona Airport last night, stepping into an airport that's open to the island air- no hermetically sealed hallways for this airport! 
My host, Cecily, is a capital-C Character; a Seattle ex-pat who's only been living in Hawaii for 4 years but who's absorbed the state's Aloha spirit in spades. She greets me at the airport with a hug, drives me back to her condo and airily waves away any concerns that her neighbours might have about her renting out rooms to foreign guests: "My upstairs neighbours asked me once if I was renting out rooms. I just told them that I have a lot of friends." She also tells me she can set me up with medical-grade marijuana as she leads me to her favourite local beach. We sit in the dark, having successfully navigated the poisonous spitting toads, and I watch my first Hawaii waves bash themselves against black lava rocks. Cecily has been married (and divorced) 4 times, she's seen at least 2 UFOs since moving to Kona, and she has computers in her ears to help her hear. I sense medical woes aplenty in her past, but she doesn't elaborate. 
My first day is all about exploration: my body wakes me up at 6am (thanks, jet-lag!) and I'm up, washed, and out of the house before 9. And a good thing, too, because I'd seriously underestimated how exhausting the heat can be, so it's good that I get a large chunk of walking in before noon. I walk downtown, I explore and window shop, I dip my toes in the Pacific, I eat. Then I stagger home, dizzy from the heat, and luckily I can borrow Cecily's bike for the afternoon, because otherwise I'd never make it to Magic Sands Beach. Which is where I wriggle into my new bathing suit and proceed to swallow more salt water than I want to as I bob in the turquoise waves. 

I have plenty of time today to think about being alone: in the water, walking downtown, sitting by myself at various restaurants. And sometimes, I have to admit, it kind of sucks. Hawaii is- let's face it- a vacation spot for families and lovers, and I see both all around me. I have moments of wishing that my mom was enjoying this with me, of wanting my dad to take photos with me; I have imaginary conversations with a few of my past loves and it's hard not to picture leaving the beach and heading back to my room- not alone, but with someone (who?) who would help me out of my bathing suit and make naptimes more fun. 
With that in mind, I'm sceptical when Cecily invites me and the 2 German girls who are also staying at her place to come and check out some live music at the Sheraton Hotel bar. The Germans are younger than me, and gorgeous: blond, skinny, tan. I figure I'll spend the evening feeling left out and melancholy. It's amazing how cocktails can smooth things over though: after a couple double-strength rum-based monsters we are all dancing: the pretty Germans, Cecily and her leathery cohorts (older woman and men over here all seem to be skinny, overly tan and skimpily dressed, but they are very sweet) and me. By the end of the night, when we have bought groceries at Safeway and headed home, I have made friends with Sylva and Maria, and even asked them if I can tag along to see the volcanoes with them when they go. 
Maybe one day I'll come back here with a lover, and a car of my own. But for now there will be adventures, and new friends, and a little loneliness, and that's just fine. 

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