Thursday, December 22, 2011

This Time Is Different

There is an age-old idea that traveling makes you different. That somehow, you'll get somewhere new and you'll be different. Or you'll come home from that trip-of-a-lifetime an entirely different person.
Generally speaking, I don't agree with that myth.
My experience has been that I get somewhere new and I'm excited, scared, overwhelmed, thrilled and I'm feeling about a million and one emotions all at the same time. Eventually, I learn to find my way around, and my emotions restore to their normal level and then, when I take a second to look at myself, I find that I'm the same old me. Same old flaws and tendencies, same point of view, same fearlessness except when I'm scared. And that's a little disappointing, but it's also a little bit comforting, because I like knowing that I am who I am. It's a kind of twisted integrity.
That being said, Hawaii is the exception.
Because when I'm in Hawaii, I'm different.
When I'm in Hawaii I put the book down and go swimming in the ocean. I don't care that my hair will be salty later and I will be washing sand out of my scalp for a week. I don't care that I look like a child. I go running toward the ocean and I play. My favorite moment is just before my head breaches the surface, when there the sky and the ocean reflect on each other like a mirror and it's hard to tell which is which. I love diving down deep and grabbing handfuls of sand. I can open my eyes underwater in the ocean. Really. I can. The salt stopped hurting years ago. And sometimes, I just like to float on my back and stare up at the clear blue sky.
When I'm in Hawaii, I let my nails be naked, because I like the way they look underwater. I like the naturalness. And I let my feet go bare, because I like the way the hot pavement and spongy grass and silky sand feel on the soles and between my toes.
When I'm in Hawaii, I don't treat my phone like my other half. As a rule, I only check it when I'm at the condo, because I want my time. I want my time to love the moment. And I can always call back later or text back another day, but I will never have this moment again. So, sometimes I play phone tag for days, but I think that stepping back from my life and spending some time in the moment is entirely healthy. 
When I'm in Hawaii, I don't do my hair. I braid the bangs out of my face in a thick french braid and let the rest hang. And it's windblown and messy and I couldn't care less because it no longer matters.
When I'm in Hawaii, I go to bed early. Like before ten. I don't remember the last time I went to bed at ten back home. It just never happens. But going to bed early in Hawaii feels good, because it means I can get up early and run and then be at the beach by 9:00, when the sun is still perfect for tanning.
When I'm in Hawaii, I almost always have a swimsuit under my clothes. I wear Target eight-dollar cotton V-neck shirts, because they're the softest things on this earth. And I wear skirts, because I like the way they swish as my hips sway. And, when I do wear shoes, I wear Locals flip flops because it doesn't matter if they get beat up on the lava rock.
When I'm in Hawaii, I watch the sunset. I walk down to the beach and sit on the lava rock wall so that my feet dangle over the sea and I watch the sky turn pink and the ocean turn purple or maybe it turns blue with an orange surface. I watch the giant red circle as the horizon slices it into segments and I wonder at the marvelous world I get to live in. I like to have moments for reflection. And, in a very dark way, I like that if I drown in the ocean the next day or there is a tsunami or an earthquake or I just drop dead, I will have watched the last sunset of my life. 
The Hawaiian sunset doesn't last as long as the Utah one. But I like watching the sun disappear behind the horizon instead of just fading away behind the mountains. I like the closure. 

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