Thursday, October 23, 2008

Walking in Waikiki

"The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness."
-Motto of Hawaii

Walking in Waikiki
With Cloudia

I have always been enchanted by the romance of Waikiki. And while I envy kama`aina like Mr. Apaka and Mr. Brower who had the good sense to grow up here, they will never know the magic of imagination as it paints a pastel Summer Waikiki sunset over the pewter and gray of an East Coast Philadelphia, USA Winter sky. Talk about imagination! Arthur Godfrey filled my “small kid times” with real Hawaiian music that wafted over the radio waves while I memorized all of the Hawaiian words that National Geographic Magazine saw fit to print during the first thrill of Hawaii Statehood.
Ah, Waikiki – you are my home at last! I’ve been here long enough to miss the Kuhio Theatre, old Hula’s Bar & Lei Stand with it’s magnificent Banyan tree, Cillies, Lollipop Lounge, and yes, even the late lamented “The Wave” nightclub “on the edge of Waikiki.” So many rowdy, youthful indiscretions! I miss them too, sometimes. I think that a place truly becomes “home” when your memories are all tied up with that place, as mine have become with this place. So this must be the place, right?
But our first date didn’t go so well, me and Waikiki. Fresh off the jet at midnight, we told our taxi driver to take us to the “Outrigger.” Little did we know then that there are 627 Kelly family Outrigger hotel properties in Waikiki! Our reservation was at the old “Outrigger East” on Kuhio, right in the middle of a cement strip of bars and attractions that had attracted a crowd more like that on a New Jersey boardwalk, or Mardi Gras New Orleans than idyllic, tropical, legendary Waikiki! Things have improved considerably since the mid-eighties, but Kuhio Avenue in the wee hours remains, um, “lively.”
I was glad, back then, to move on to our first Hawaii home on the Big Island’s Kona coast. Only later did I become acquainted with ole Waikiki on sunnier terms. Today I’m happy to live with my husband, our cat, and all my memories and demons, on board our 55 year old, locally built, cutter-rigged pinky-stern line island trader. She’s steel, like a solid old car (or a dumpster!). This is not the boat that comes to mind when you hear the word “yacht” but it’s functional, funky, and “home.” Actually, it’s the boat a child draws: mast, Popeye wheelhouse, high bowsprit, and three round portholes on both sides, port and starboard.
So now my neighbors are reef fish like Moorish Idols, Trigger Fish, and the occasional sea turtle, like neighborhood favorite “Patty” with her missing fore flipper. Oh! And Boxy, my pet box fish. He looks eerily like a big, soulful human face, with brown expressive eyes grafted onto the front of a square fish body like a psychedelic nightmare, Yellow Submarine-stylee! If he weren’t so sweet natured he’d probably really creep me out, you know?
My human neighbors are a special breed, too: boat people. Folks with nice boats who come down for recreation on the weekend; there are also those of us persistent and patient enough to finally hold coveted “live aboard” slips. And always there are cruisers: folks in serious boats who stop here while circumnavigating the globe via the poles, like the big, steel Russian (the boat AND the captain) that was here a while ago, or retired couples from New Zealand on their way to San Francisco (or vice versa). We also see seasonal cruisers; folks who call no dock their home, just their trusty boats, along with their extended networks of connections in little coves and indigenous villages around a world that tourists never get to see.
Boats that I have known, or just marveled at, are just now cruising up the Thames, through the San Juan Islands, Central America, or the smaller islands of Samoa. The bulk of humanity does NOT live afloat, so most of us who do have an interesting story about what lured (or chased!) us off of dry land and the steady life. It’s a bit like motorcyclists, or hot air balloonists: “How did you get into this?” Yes, the sea has always been a safety net, safety valve, or alternative, to societies structures and life’s responsibilities ashore.
The always immediate and changing eternal sea makes light of today’s “important” concerns. Things always look different out here on the water, off shore, un-tied. Even boats that rarely leave the confines of the harbor remain attached to solid land only by a slender line of rope, a rope that may be thrown at any time. Floating out here at the edge we have furled sails, the sleeping engine, full water tanks, even boxes of canned beans. We are ever ready to slip away on the tide that always seems to be flowing somewhere. else. Yet…yet we stay in Waikiki…
Yes, our home is constantly moving, bobbing, swaying, heeling with the wind. Such a home nurtures different certainties about home and foundations. Our main attachments are to nature, and to each other: other boat people. We have learned that boat people will always catch your thrown rope and make it fast. They expect that you will do the same for them, that’s just the way of the waves. One day, the neighbor in the next slip will be gone, leaving only an empty space of water. Then a new neighbor in a new house will arrive to share our narrow dock to solid land. Boat people know that nothing is forever, except maintenance. Shipmates will sail on different tides at last, and nothing really lasts except the dear harbor itself, the frigate birds, sailing clouds, monthly jellyfish, and the sea itself, all constantly morphing, eternal with it’s ever changing light, spinning seasons, and our passing wakes stretching out behind us. Nothing else remains- except Diamond Head (that sphinx!), and the way we choose to feel about it all. . . Here at the edge of Waikiki. . . Till later, Malama Pono (do the right thing) I’ll be right here. . . walking in Waikiki. ALOHA!

My little Hawaii/Taxi Driving/self help novel: “Aloha Where You Like Go” is available at Mahalo!


gigi-hawaii said...

Sounds idyllic, but I get seasick even when the boat is docked. I was even seasick on the Mighty Mo at Pearl Harbor!

Anonymous said...

cute kitty! bt

B. Roan said...

Nice sky shot. The kitty is soooo cute! BJ


hello from my island in the mediterranean - isn't it amazing living on island, surrounded by sea with beautiful sunsets every day

nice to hear from you - i must pass you more often!

Aileni said...

What a great post. I like your writing style very much.
You must have been born an islander as I believe I was. And I am the guy in the junk-rigged cruiser that never was.
Our island was small and wild and our boat just 18 feet.
I am glad you came by - you are living the life I read about back in the Fifties. I shall keep track, if I may.

Cloudia said...

ALOHA Greetings & Welcome to GiGi, B. Roan, Mediteranean Kiwi, and Aileni. Mahalo/thank you for dropping by! YOUR blogs are very interesting and I shall visit often ;-) Island Warmly, Cloudia

pattinase (abbott) said...

What a magical place to live. The troubles of the world must be a bit more remote there.

Travis Erwin said...

One of my good friends was born and raised in Hawaii. I hope to get there myself one of these days.

Barbara Martin said...

My uncle lived in Honolulu for many years. I found visiting like going to paradise.

Barrie said...

This makes me want to go to Hawaii. Pronto.

Junosmom said...

Given that it is a high of 40 degrees here today, it wasn't nice of you to gloat LOL. Beautiful shots! I'm ready to come visit!

Mary said...

I hope to see your lovely "town" someday!