Return from Hawaii...

Trip Start Jun 03, 2004
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Trip End Sep 22, 2004


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Flag of United States  , Indiana
Wednesday, September 22, 2004

 
"To have become a deeper man is the privilege of those who have suffered." 
--Oscar Wilde
 
             I got off the plane in Indianapolis and almost fainted on the spot.  My knees were weak and my legs rubbery and unstable.  I couldn't catch a full breath and grew dizzy as I made my way into the terminal.  I don't know if it was shell shock or simple anxiety or even jetlag, but I just felt weird and could not shake it.  I wanted to collapse to my knees and cry out loud.  I felt as though I had failed.  I left the nest and flew far away only to fall flat on my face. 
I met my parents at the gate and they were instantly shocked.  I was skinnier, dirtier and darker than they'd ever seen me before.  I was, without a doubt, not the same person who had climbed into that little red Cavalier and sped out of their driveway months and months earlier.  And I think they could see that.  I was now a broken man with a kaleidoscope view of life.  I stopped at their feet, dropped my bag with a sigh and told them simply, "I'm sorry."
I was ashamed of what I'd become.
They pulled me in close and hugged me tightly.  The airport was quiet, empty and smelled like lemon scented floor wax.  When we got back to the old house, the first thing I did was head for the shower.  I spent almost a half an hour in there.  Most of that time I spent standing with my head bowed, fighting the unavoidable tears and watching the black water swirling around at my feet. 
I was so happy to be safe and clean again, yet so sad to be back in the place I tried so hard, so many times, to get away from.  I scrubbed my feet relentlessly, but it would be a few weeks before the blackness would finally disappear.  The dirt stayed imbedded in my rough and callused feet for months, as a strange reminder of the plight I had faced and overcome.
After my shower, I retreated to my old room to enjoy a plate of home-cooked spaghetti.  I turned the knob and the door creaked open.  It was just the way I left it.  The room was empty.  The walls were faded and thick layers of dust rested atop the dresser and between the blinds.  I swallowed hard and stepped into the room.  A strange wave of emotion came over me and I was overwhelmed by the past memories that were forever locked in the room.  I found cigarette burn holes and paint stains that did nothing but remind me of better days that were long gone and lived on only in my memory. 
The full moon hung low in the night sky, providing a lunar night-light, shining brightly through the window.  After my delicious dinner, I put a flame to a candle, then to my cigarette and exhaled softly, sitting back against the wall.  I took a long, hard look outside and lost myself in a dream, a memory that lingers.  Taking a slow drag on my cigarette, the smoke ascended gradually and escaped through the window, into the night.  Melancholic nostalgia swirled about me in a haze of memories that were as far gone as the Pacific breeze I had left behind.
Hawaii is a magnificent place to live, but it is also an expensive place to live.  When you are young and dumb and on the run from something or to something, it is the perfect place; however, someday you wake up and realize how expensive it really is to live in such a beautiful place.  I discovered this the hard way, ending up homeless and broke along the sands of Waikiki.
I miss the islands tremendously.  I miss the lifestyle, the music, the food, the value system, the traditions and especially the Aloha Spirit.  I miss the uncles and the aunties, the street performers and the musicians.  I miss the nightlife of Waikiki.  I miss Seaside.  I miss the girls in Waikiki.  I miss walking down the sidewalk, passing the beautifully colored hibiscus flowers.  I miss the beautiful mornings, waking up on the empty beaches of the North Shore.  I miss the waves.  I miss the ocean.  Hell, I even miss the blue lights of the HPD squad cars at night.  But most of all, I miss the smiles and the "no worries" and the shakas.  I miss The Island.  I do.
And so my story ends where it began - back in Indiana, with the sun fading away over the quiet suburbs and quaint little farms.  Every time I watch the sun set over the amber fields and concrete suburbs of Indiana, it replenishes my tired soul with hope and fills my heart with warmth, yet simultaneously breaks it to pieces.  Because I know that only 4,336 miles in that direction, to the west, over the beautiful landscape of America and over the blue waters of the Pacific... is The Island.  And it is waiting for me.
 
THE RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL SON
             I spent half my life running away.  It was all I knew how to do.  It was instinctive.  I was the Lost Son who ran off only to return each time from brash and audacious travels.  My other brothers caused plenty of trouble in their day, but neither of them ever went so far as to run away to California or suddenly up and move to Hawaii.  No, they were never as foolish as me.
             I went off to a distant land, where I lived a rotten life.  Then I eventually came to my senses and returned, where I threw myself at the mercy of my parents, who had saved my skin once again.  I cried and cried.  All I could do was sob and apologize as they welcomed me back with open arms, not allowing me to express my remorse.  They didn't care about any of that, only that I was safe and alive and with them once again.  That was all that mattered to them.
I spent the first month in healing and in hiding.  I slept a lot and didn't eat much.  Whenever I became hungry, I also became nauseous and then unable to eat at all.  My stomach had shrunk and it was hard to gain back weight at first.  Whenever I thought of food, even if I was hungry, I would feel sick. 
Only a few weeks earlier I was digging sandwiches out of dumpsters and stealing Spam Musubi.  So I guess part of it was and still is psychological. After about a month or so, I had more energy and began to gain back some hunger.  My mother cooked enormous meals for me and I would nibble here and there and eventually, in about two to three months' time, I managed to gain back most of the weight I had lost.  When I returned from The Island I weighed 119 lbs.  When I left for The Island I weighed 137.
Eventually through word of mouth the rest of my family and extended family got word of my months of misfortune.  Some had nothing to say on the subject and the rest didn't have much to say either.  It was and still is a very taboo topic.  I was The Lost Son, the lost sheep, and I returned to merciful and loving parents who embraced me and took me back into their home. 
Although this audacious adventure garnered me much criticism and very little praise, it is considered by most to be one of the dumbest things I have ever done.  But I beg to differ.  It was the smartest and the dumbest thing I have ever done.   But either way, I had to do it.
            
THE RECEDING OF THE DREAM
Those first months back were easy on the stomach, but hard on the heart.  There were so many things I had run away from and was now surrounded by once again.  Something told me that I wasn't done here.  Something told me that I had some unfinished work to do before I could finally put it all behind me.  I had to make amends, I had to find forgiveness.  I had to find peace.  I had sought redemption in all the wrong places.
I was no where near a saint when I left for The Island, nor was I any closer to such a thing on The Island, but when I returned from it, I was much closer than ever before.  I had done plenty wrong to plenty of people before The Island as well as on it and now I had to atone for my wrongdoings.  I had to right these wrongs.  The thing is... you can't fix every mistake you make.  And not everything can be forgiven.
             A few months after my return, my parents fell into some financial troubles and so we sold the house and then moved into a spacious townhouse nearby.  This is about the same time that I rekindled a friendship with the Perez Brothers, who lived on the other side of the complex.  It was strange at first, but we pretty much picked up where we left off and it truly did ease the transition for me.  They were the only ones who eagerly wanted to hear of my travels.  They truly cared and listened and were even proud of me, respected me for what I had done, as foolish as it may have seemed.  The Perez Brothers were my outlet, my escape.  I no longer had to bottle up anything... because my two best friends were back in my life and they were more than willing to help me rebuild.
             I was pretty much a hermit for the first few months in the townhouse.  It was a cold winter and I spent it hibernating and writing.  The spring came and I continued to hide away and write, hunched over a keyboard or pieces of paper for several hours.  When I had writer's block, I would paint or go to the clubhouse for a solo game of pool.  And as the summer crept up, if it was warm enough, I'd stop for a dive in the pool, wade in the water for a short while until I cleared my head and then return to my writing.  In May, I got a job at a local movie cinema.
             I kept in contact with Bubba and would talk to him whenever I could.  He traveled often for work and in five months was going to two different states and two different countries.  Back on The Island, during our many island cruises in his jeep, we would so often dream aloud and plan out magnificent trips across the mainland and adventures at sea.  I had plotted out a road trip with Bubba which was to take place in July.  He had a few weeks in between his travels to visit and so he came to Indiana to see me for a week and a half in July.  He also came to see his cousin Akalei (Ah-Kah-Lay), who also lived in Indiana.  My friends had gone to school with her and I vaguely remembered who she was when Bubba first mentioned her on The Island.  It was so ironic, though; I met Frankie in Indiana, who was best friends with Bubba for years prior, and then Bubba became my best friend and tells me of his cousin in Indiana who went to the same school as I did.   What a small world it truly is.
             Well, as I promised him, when I returned to the Midwest, I found his cousin.  I found her through the Perez Brothers and in July, Bubba flew out to see us.  Unfortunately, I could not aid in the extravagant road trip we had planned a year earlier, but at least Bubba could see his cousin whom he hadn't seen in many years. 
             So Bubba and his cousin, the Perez' and myself celebrated the fourth of July with import beers, herb, fireworks and barbeque.  It was a great week, but also an emotional one.  Akalei did not take Bubba's leaving to well and neither did I.  Bubba even grew on the Perez' and we were all sad to see him go.  And so the tables had turned and here I was, driving Bubba to the airport and watching him get on a plane and once more, uncertain whether I'd ever see him again.
             After Bubba left, everything fell apart once again.  The dream began to recede... I lost faith in the dream and lost hope in myself.  Shortly after Bubba left us, my father lost his job and got a better paying one in Indianapolis.  And so we moved down to the Circle City and into a new townhouse on the Westside.  We moved in such a rush that I had no time to tie up any of the many loose ends I had.  
             I lost contact with the Perez' after they moved once more and had then lost all hope in myself and all faith in my dream and so I retracted, de-evolved into what I once was; the same person I tried so hard to run away from and tried so hard not to be.  I gave in to the fact that I may never see The Island again and had to settle down to a life in Indiana. 
             I became my old self.  I tried to anyway.  I cut my hair off, went back to the short fade and shaved my face, going back to the clean cut chin and even began wearing my old clothes.  No longer was it dirty khaki shorts and a white tee, no, it was now back to undershirts and striped button-ups with a black leather jacket and cologne and deodorant and maybe even hair gel here and there.  I had subconsciously given up on my dream and recoiled back into the old me without resistance.  I did not put up a fight.  I simply gave up.  I abandoned all the changes that had taken place on The Island.  I tried to anyway.
             I had changed, I had evolved out there on that island... and now I was trying desperately to be something I wasn't.  I tried so hard to ignore the internal changes that had occurred and tried so hard to step back into the shoes I walked in before I left for The Island.  This is why I cut my hair off and began shaving my face regularly, why I began listening to the same old music and wearing the same old clothes... I tried so hard not to be what I had become.  The truth is... we do not change.  We evolve.  And whether I wanted it or not, this was now who and what I was and to renege on such dramatic changes would be futile and foolish.
 
THE RESEEDING OF THE DREAM
"Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly."
-- Langston Hughes
 
             One early morning before dawn I awoke from a peaceful slumber, arose from the floor and made my way across the hall to the bathroom.  I stood there, my feet firmly planted on the linoleum tiles, staring into the mirror at myself staring back at me and asked aloud, "What the hell am I doing?"  And then I waited as if for my reflection to answer.
             The next time I looked into a mirror was a few weeks later, after I had come to the realization that I was not evolving, I was not moving forward but rather walking backwards.  I had lost myself and lost focus of my dream.  But then one morning I woke up and let go.  I simply let go.  I let my hair grow out once again and stopped shaving my face everyday.  The next time I looked into a mirror I had a two week stubble and bushy hair.  The only difference in my reflection was my eyes.  Before, they were cloudy and hazy, unclear.  But now, these same eyes were clear and accurate, resolute and determined.  The fire in the belly had been rekindled and shined through in my eyes.
               When I had cut my hair and abandoned The Dream, I tore down every poster and picture, every painting and sketch that reminded me in anyway of The Island.  However, everywhere I went I saw leis hanging from rear view mirrors and hibiscus flowers on car windows and hula girls on dashboards, Hawaiian design seat covers and Hawaiian and island clues in crossword puzzles, the same as before I left for The Island.  It was everywhere; as if The Dream was refusing to give up on me even though I had already given up on it. 
             I snapped out of it one morning after a most lucid dream that I had the night before in which I was back on The Island with some Seasiders and some of The Ala Wai Boys on the beach in Waikiki, watching the full moon dance atop the cresting surf as the waves settled and kissed our feet.  It was nothing but good vibes as everyone was smiling and happy.  It was the Aloha Spirit and it had faded within me.  And so I chose to change my life and myself and both for the better.  The only way I could achieve such a thing was to be the person I had become, to accept the role I had been given, to yield to the unseen forces and to the process of personal evolution.  I had to accept the changes that occurred and use them to better myself and perhaps even the world and those around me.
             I brushed the cobwebs from my dream, slapped on a fresh coat of paint and tightened some of the screws.  As The Dream reseeded, my hope was restored like an antique armoire.  To prevent myself from losing sight of what was really important or allowing The Dream to fade away again, I hung new paintings of the ocean and beaches on my walls alongside photos from Hawaii, palm tree posters, my lei, quotes and other words of wisdom and even hung a Hawaiian flag over my window.
             The seed had been replanted and in much richer soil than ever before.  It is truly amazing the potential that lies in a tiny seed.  Even the most miniscule and minute of seeds can grow, blossom and bloom into the most elegant and most beautiful of flowers.  The Dream - the dream of living alongside the Aloha Spirit and the Pacific Ocean is a very contagious and alluring dream.  The Dream is a seed.  Every dream is a seed.  Every thought and idea is a seed.  With enough water (sorrow) and plenty of sunshine (joy), seeds such as these will grow and flourish; they will expand and branch off into many roots, then sprout a bud and finally... bloom into a beautiful reality. 
             Dreams are to some not worth holding onto let alone chasing after.  But to others, dreams are everything and are without a doubt worth holding onto and definitely worth chasing.  Why else would we be capable of such a thing as dreaming unless it served some sort of purpose?  We dream for a reason.  Everyone has a dream.  Some hold tight to them.  Others don't.  Either way, everyone has some sort of dream covered in cobwebs sitting in the back of their mind.  We all hope for something better and something beautiful and this is one reason is why we dream. 
             Truth is dreams are not for everyone.  We may all have them and they may be as simple as a light switch or as complex as the human circulatory system but dreams are not for the faint of heart or weak minded.  Some would say that dreams are left for the optimists, yet even the most pessimistic of pessimists has a dream.  The difference is that the optimists never lose sight of their dream and never loosen their grip on it.  Optimists will blindly follow and stumble after their dreams and will almost always achieve them, whereas pessimists have nowhere near enough hope necessary to sustain such dreams and therefore so easily give up on them.  Then the dream remains to be nothing more than simply that, a dream... never a reality.
             The Dream, the seed, had been transplanted into improved soil and received plenty of sunshine and water, plenty of joy and sorrow.  I am an optimist, some would even venture to say a blind optimist, but in any case, I still have hope.  I will always have hope.  Hope is a terrible thing to lose and once you've lost it, you've lost the will to fight.
Sometimes you have to fight for what you believe in, for what you want, for what you hope for and dream of.  Dreams do not become a reality overnight.  This is one of the duties of having a dream; you must fight for it.  You must be willing to sacrifice and also willing to pay a price.  No one will ever make your dreams come true for you.  You have to want it.  You have to eat, sleep and breathe your dream.  You have to stay headstrong and not give up on it. 
             There will be many who will doubt you, many who will try and stop you or slow you down.  There will be many who will not believe in you, will hold no faith in you or your abilities.  There will be many who will stomp on your dream, rub it in the dirt and spit on it, call you a fool and wish you only the worst.  Do not be dissuaded, do not falter, do not lose any steam and do not give in to the harsh criticisms and negative energies.
             Hold fast, raise the anchor and drop the sails. 
Embark on the journey that is your dream.
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