EVERYONE HAS A STORY - Week Two
March 7 – March 13
LET’S MAKE A SCHEDULE
By the end of the first week, we had unpacked or stored our collection of eleven suitcases and four carry-on’s, plus a car seat, dog crate, leashes, dog food and toys. Their German Shepherd had a rough flight, eleven hours from the East Coast, and was displaying major anxiety the first few days, but long walks and frequent trips to a small patch of grass just outside the door helped. We awaited the arrival of their car that had been shipped a month earlier from the mainland, which was delivered without issue. We were all settling into a routine in the temporary and compact housing situation, happy that outdoor activities kept us in the fresh air much of the time.
Our first Saturday after arrival, we joined my nephew’s old college roommate and his family at Bellows Air Force Base, where he welcomed us to his home, situated feet from the water. We grilled chicken for lunch, took a multi-family walk to the small restaurant and gift shop where I tasted my first “Dole Whip,” and strolled the white sandy beaches. The water was an intense turquoise blue and the sand was fine and velvety to the touch, nothing like the Southern California beaches. The wind was steady and strong, but it was breathtaking, a glimpse of what I expected to experience in the coming weeks.
My niece and her husband were getting acclimated to their new offices and dropped their daughter off at school every morning on their way to work. I picked her up every day after school, and we spent the afternoons completing homework assignments, then taking a break at the community pool where she made friends in the temporary neighborhood. By late afternoon, we headed back to the unit to get dinner started and by the time it was ready, my niece and her husband had returned from a busy day at work. We all ate our evening meal together, then took a walk around the resorts, German Shepherd in tow. It was like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting - with tradewinds.
I found a few select locations to start writing my third novel and located a library nearby where I had access to a desktop computer. Even though much of what I write is in longhand, it seemed cumbersome to attempt composing in this manner while I was away from home. As a visitor to the Island, I was able to acquire a guest pass and I looked forward to a few hours to myself before heading back to the school for pick-up. It was a beautiful library – I was only able to enjoy it for one week.
Because their move was so close to Spring Break, the little one would only be in school for two weeks before a one-week vacation commenced. She adapted quickly and was eager to get back to her new classmates, but we made a list of activities that both of us would enjoy during her time off. We looked forward to visiting the Honlulu Zoo, Dole Pineapple Plantation, spending a day at the community pool in her new neighborhood, joining the tourist population at the nearby lagoons, and top of the list – participating in a Character Breakfast the Aulani Disney Resort, which was open to all visitors, not just hotel guests. It was going to be an exciting week!
My visit was to last seven weeks, return home to launch my novel, KEEP FOREVER, host the Release Party on May 1st, then return a week later and stay for three more weeks. Before I left, I scoured the internet for activities I could enjoy on my own while the little one was at school and her parents were at work. Two were priority. As a Rotarian in my hometown, I had hoped to make friends with a local Rotary group on the island, and chose one that was about twenty minutes from the temporary housing unit. The timing was perfect, it met for one hour starting at noon, which gave me the time to get to the school for 2:00 p.m. release. I felt welcome there and planned to return on a weekly basis, plus join them in the International Rotarians at Work Day that I had participated in for years with my club back home. I felt like I was settling in, and carving a temporary life during this time that was productive and meaningful. Even though my stay in Hawaii was to be short-lived, staying busy beyond the need for me to participate in the move was important. I attended one meeting – there would not be another.
I had also read about the Memorial Day Celebration at the Punch Bowl Veteran Cemetery in Honolulu. Every year, a lei is placed on the grave of each veteran. There are 38,000 graves and I couldn’t wait to see this impressive tribute. I never missed a Memorial Day celebration and would not be back in time to participate in one in my home town, or be able to visit my veteran for the first time in eight years. I searched the Web for more information about this event and found contact information to the Botanical Gardens, three of them, who were looking for volunteers to create the leis! I was welcomed by a group of women who taught me how to make a ti leaf lei, and was invited to the Volunteer luncheon. I was honored. I couldn’t wait to return every Wednesday Morning to the Wahiawa Botanical Gardens and see the fruits of my labor at the Cemetery on Memorial Day. I made eleven leis that day. I was never able to return.
Slowly, newscast by newscast, post by post, briefing by briefing, update by update, the world was beginning to take on a somber tone. Information about the virus became more disturbing, there was concern in the workplace, states were in jeopardy of spreading infection nationwide, and the threat appeared to be real…not to be ignored. We determined that while their kindergartener finished her second week in school, I would use that time to shop for food and necessities that would last a month or more. I spent two days at Target and Costco, shopping like I had never done before. I filled baskets that I could barely push, and split the goods between the temporary housing and the new home where there was a second refrigerator. Where was this headed? Is it necessary? How long will it last? I wasn’t worried. At least we were still able to enjoy the tourist attractions and made reservations at the Polynesian Center for a luau and full evening of local heritage events, and dinner at the Four Seasons – a treat where I would be able to see my first Hawaiian sunset. My niece, always the planner, made Mother’s Day reservations at an iconic Honolulu restaurant, and my daughter made plans to fly from California for that week to join us. Even though she is an adult and our lives intersect often when I am at home, I missed her. Mother’s Day – with daughter, niece, nephew, and my precious great-niece, in Hawaii – it doesn’t get much better than that.
We were able to spend a day at their new home to get acquainted with their soon-to-be neighbors and enjoy the community pool which was to be almost a daily activity once we moved in. Their furniture was still at the docks, with an expected delivery in a couple weeks. The only place to sit was the outdoor patio set left behind by the seller, but there was a built-in grill and outdoor kitchen. There was plenty to eat from shopping I had done earlier the week and dinner never tasted so good. Life, their new life they had worked so hard to achieve, was beginning to take shape.
Our schedules were getting full, and I was excited. I could finally put my trepidation to rest, and enjoy the rest of my adventure, as planned. We were blending generations and working together like a well-oiled machine. Even with two freezers full of food, and cupboards overflowing, I’m not worried. Containment is imminent, right?
I learned how to make a Ti Leif lei
I had the privilege of taking long walks by myself or with family every day, in a community that most people only dream about.
I had a bounty of beautiful food to cook with every night