This morning saw the return to ‘normal’ for my body clock, which unfortunately for me means waking up at 6:45 and tossing around in bed for about 5 mins before giving in and getting up. I decided to walk out down to the beach to write, and as soon as I hit the stairs to leave the house, the piercing morning sun was already starting to scorch my (already sunburnt) skin.
I crossed the 2-lane highway that services this end of Kauai, and headed to the beach. These pictures give you an idea of what it was like this morning, but they do not at all capture the beauty and magic of the place.
It really is like tropical Australia –with the palm trees and the surf culture and perennial sunshine, but as soon as I look around me and see volcanic mountains, Americans and chickens (the chicken is like the cane toad of Kauai-?!), I know I’m not in Queensland anymore.
The last 2 days since we’ve been here have been crazy – mostly good and some bad.
The tears started for me after getting through the departure gates. My feelings of loss were incensed by having my box of yoghurt taken off my at the security check (of course it’s a liquid duh!), and as it was left behind I realised that along with the yoghurt, all my friends and family, the people who loved and supported me, were all on the other side of that gate too. I felt alone and afraid, but after that time Jesse and I were closer, it started to feel like it was really us, together, out in the world.
We arrived in Honolulu after a 10hr 45 min flight (not bad for a trip from Aus) at about 6am Sydney time. Fortunately I slept through most of the flight thanks to some of Jesse’s antihistamines. Still drowsy from the effects, Jesse and I separated at Immigration – him taking the US citizen line and me taking the foreign one. After a small wait I approached the stern little Hawaiian woman at the desk. After handing in my passport she asked me how long I was staying.
“6 months.” I said proudly.
“Oh, you cannot!” she exclaimed in a very cute Hawaiian accent. Accustomed to this kind of over-exaggerated disbelief from people I had been telling about my trip, I started smiling. But, of course, she was not joking with me.
I was taken from the line and detained in a Border Security type room, with 1 Singaporean man, 1 Chinese man, 1 Indian man and 1 African man. Needless to say I felt nervously out of place.
After being asked about 15 times whether I was planning to get married/work while I was here and having them look through my luggage, I was able to re-join Jesse on the other side of Customs, and we moved on to the next task of getting to Kauai. While I won’t go into the boring details you can imagine arduous task of hauling 100kg of luggage between us from terminal to terminal, with weary sleep-deprived bodies, feeling smelly, sweaty and hungry and having nothing available to eat except a $3.48c Oatmeal Raisin cookie that practically turns into heartburn the minute it passes your lips.
It was with a combined sense of overwhelming relief and anxiety that I approached Jesse’s parents who picked us up in Kauai. We loaded our luggage into the giant Dodge van they had rented and went back to the car rental place to fix up some final details.
While Jesse and his mother waited in the long line for the rental car service, his father and I took a seat outside to chat. We both pretty much immediately confessed our respective anxiety about meeting each other. From then on everything started to feel easy.
Tropical island, fresh fruit smoothies on the way to the place we were staying, and a long sleep. A few more sleeps interspersed with joyful interludes of catching up with Jesse’s family and venturing around the island has finally helped me to feel more…at home? Is that the phrase I would use?
Yes, I am very far from the homes (plural – see previous post) I grew up in, the homes I was loved, the homes where at different times I felt I was alone and belonged at the same time. I feel the loss, and the sadness in my heart of the separation from those loved friends. But I have learnt home can be anywhere (once again see previous post), and for now, I do feel at home.