I wanted to love you, Hawai’i, I really did. I held on for a long time, hoping things would get better. I tried.
It just didn’t work out between us.
I’ve admired you from afar, and for many years I’d heard so many nice things about you. Friends said we were destined for the long term. You were beautiful, wild and free. I hoped one day to meet you.
So when the chance finally came for us to spend time together, the anticipation bubbled up in me. And you didn’t disappoint. No, you were as handsome and lovely as they all said you were, lush and vibrant and serene all at once. I marveled.
You fed my stomach and you fed my soul.
We explored each other warily for the first days, you and I. At times breezy, you turned sultry as the evenings settled.
You offered a lot of fun, but I also saw your somber side at Pearl Harbor.
The next day, you showed me a parrot fish munching coral at Hanauma Bay and a wonderful luau and dinner show later.
You taught me the story behind the “shaka.” Our time together was going smoothly, and you and I got along just fine, Hawai’i.
But things turned sour at Haleiwa, on our trip up to the North Shore, right after the butter garlic shrimp at Macky’s.
I mean, really. I was just going for a ride, but that tour bus guide had other plans. You really hurt me that day, but I stayed with you.
That sprained ankle slowed me down.
The wheelchair helped, but I have to admit it put a crimp in our relationship, which had started off so well. Now I couldn’t be as freewheeling and spontaneous as you wanted me to be.
Now I had to temper my enthusiasm with a painful slice of reality – an Ace bandage and a cane.
Still, we dined happily with dear friends who were glad to meet you, too, and the bag of ice was a small price to pay. (The cab fare was another matter entirely.)
I gamely went along with the original plan, getting to know you better. We went to Hilo, where you showed me your active volcano and the beauty of its stark landscape.
It was almost romantic, dining on ahi poke, illuminated by your evening glow. There was still so much to learn about you.
I sensed the best was yet to come.
In the morning we met an old friend for the first time. We swam with her in the warm, thermal waters near Pahoa. We saw myriad little fish swarm near the boat launch and the young boy practicing surfing near the breakwater.
We met some new, friendly faces and petted some dogs on boogie boards; we also met a not-so-friendly sea urchin that left its marks.
We even saw where Pele stopped to rest last year, leaned up against a fence at the city dump. I should have known that the churning in our guts was a foreboding.
We drove around the coastline, determined to see as much as we could.
We saw huge boulders churning in the waves, testimony to the sea’s incredible strength, and turtles riding the surge.
Enormous palms and banyans provided shade while showy bougainvillea and trumpet vines climbed their trunks.
It was lush and warm, and the sea breeze was just right.
Something ugly was brewing in that perfumed air, though. Later on, I knew it: instead of butterflies, I felt an angry growl in my stomach. What should have been a relaxing time of fun and laughter became exhausting. My enthusiasm, like my energy, was draining away fast. Maybe I should have known when the flight was cancelled, but the staff was helpful and eventually got us where we needed to be. I still held out hope for us.
Maui, the final destination, was supposed to be the best of all.
Only it wasn’t. And after an hour and a half drive, inching our way over 20 miles to the resort, making arrangements to stay closer to the elevator in deference to my still-swollen ankle, and finally checking in, all we could do was collapse on the bed and sleep.
Hawai’i, your charm was fading fast.
It rained from the sky straight into my heart, and even my best attempts at salvaging the days we had left were mostly fruitless. We finally saw one of your fabled sunsets, but only briefly from under the heavy rain cloud, and only from our room, while we bitterly laughed at the irony.
After two more nights of Gatorade, bananas and crackers, I no longer wanted to be with you. I was no longer under your spell; I was tired, hurt, and deeply disappointed in you. You weren’t what I had hoped for, and you weren’t what I was led to believe.
You were beautiful from a distance, but when I was with you, you smothered me, and I realized I couldn’t live that life. It was time to go.
To be honest, these may have been the worst days of my life, made more so because they were supposed to be some of the best. You mocked my plans. You flouted my desire to do it all, and you made me unable to do anything. Even the sun turned its back at the end. So I don’t feel bad for ending it at all. I’m not a quitter, but I know when I’m wasting my time.
So, goodbye, Hawai’i. I’m breaking up with you.
Aloha. I never want to see you again. When I speak of you, it will be in past tense, because we don’t have a future together. Your name will become synonymous with the worst of times, not the best of times. When I hear it, it will bring to mind a broken ankle
(it wasn’t a sprain, after all), food poisoning, and a sea urchin sting. It will remind me of rain, dorky tour guides, and rude people.
I may wistfully recall our time at Duke’s and Morimoto’s, but I am more likely to wince at the thought of that ahi poke.
And I couldn’t even find a decent cup of coffee.